Last month the EPA announced that they were tightening the federal air quality standards. The new regulations will try to lower the ground-level ozone found in communities around the country. Ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is instead formed when Co2, Nitrogen oxide and methane mix together and come in contact with sunlight. The major sources of ozone are man-made, whether its industrial facilities, motor exhaust or chemical solvents they all emit dangerous compounds that increase ground-level ozone.
The EPA has suggested that the ozone standard be set between .060 and .070 parts per million for an 8 hr time period. The current standard of .075 was set by the previous administration, against the advice of the EPA's panel of science advisers. At these higher levels ozone can be a threat to the health and welfare of our citizens. Ground-level ozone can cause reduced lung function, coughing, increased asthma attacks and respiratory infection. A 2006 survey by the Mecklenburg Health Dept. revealed that emergency room treatments for respiratory problems increased during bad-air days. During the summer, when the sun and heat produce higher ozone levels Mecklenburg County can continually reach levels of ozone in the upper .060s and into the .070s. These readings were taken at the county line, but inside Charlotte where cars, trucks and businesses add to the pollution the numbers can obviously be higher and more dangerous. Hopefully with tightened air standards, Charlotte will work towards getting people out of their cars and into mass transportation. Maybe they'll finally finish the proposed second and third lines on their light rail system. However they plan on meeting the new standards, in the end communities in North Carolina will be a cleaner and safer.
The EPA plans on having a final decision by August 31st.
To learn more about your local air quality visit this site: http://xapps.enr.state.nc.us/aq/ForecastCenter