Ozone Action Day declared for Thursday

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

From staff reports


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued an Ozone Action Day for the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, including Orange, for Thursday, July 26, 2018.

Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone air pollution in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area on Thursday.  You can help prevent ozone pollution by sharing a ride, walking or riding a bicycle, taking your lunch to work, avoiding drive-through lanes, conserving energy, and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

TCEQ uses scientific research to develop effective strategies to reduce ozone concentrations. Texas has devoted millions of dollars to air quality research during the past decade, including two major field studies—the Texas Air Quality Study 2000, the Texas Air Quality Study II—and numerous smaller scale studies throughout the state.

Ozone-reduction strategies, developed from knowledge gained through research, have decreased ozone statewide—by 29 percent from 2000 to 2014. By comparison, the rest of the nation averaged only a 16 percent decrease over the same period.

Ozone, sometimes referred to as smog, is a gas that is formed in the atmosphere when three atoms of oxygen combine. The chemical structure of ozone is the same wherever it is found; however, there are two categories of ozone.

Stratospheric Ozone is found naturally in the Earth’s upper atmosphere – 6 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface – where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Ground-Level Ozone is found at ground level (it is also called tropospheric ozone). It is not emitted directly into the air, but created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. In addition, biogenic sources (living organisms or biological processes) release VOCs that can contribute to ground-level ozone, according to the TCEQ website.

Ground-level ozone is of particular importance because it is a respiratory toxic agent that can cause acute respiratory health effects when people breathe high concentrations of it over several hours. These effects include decreased lung function and pain with deep breaths, and aggravated asthma symptoms.

Summer days in Texas can be conducive for ozone formation as high-pressure systems dominate our local weather patterns, giving us clear skies and stagnant winds. Ozone mainly forms in the highest concentrations on warm, sunny days with light wind speeds, which allows more of the pollutant to form and accumulate.

Take Care of Texas is a statewide campaign from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that provides helpful information on Texas’ successes in environmental protection and encourages all Texans to help keep our air and water clean, conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and save a little money in the process.