AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued an Ozone Action Day for the Austin area for Friday. This is the fourth day in a row an Ozone Action Day has been issued for our area.
Though four issuances in a row is very uncommon, it is also not unprecedented. The last time TCEQ issued four or more Ozone Action Day notices in a row was in 2011, when they were issued each day from Sept. 7, 2011 all the way through Sept. 12, 2011 (six days in a row).
Friday’s air quality is in the “Unhealthy for Some” range, meaning the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory issues such as asthma should limit doing any strenuous activity outside for an extended period of time.
What causes ground-level ozone?
Ozone is not directly emitted into the air. It is actually a chemical reaction that occurs when sunshine interacts with pollutants emitted from cars, refineries, chemical plants, etc.
Calm winds and abundant sunshine bring the best conditions for excessive levels of ozone at ground level. A ridge of high pressure after an early week cold front has brought us very quiet and pleasant weather. But the high pressure also brings (vertically) sinking air with it, combined with calm to extremely light (horizontal) winds at the surface. What this means is any ozone that develops has nowhere to go. With calm winds, pollution collects instead of mixing out, further lowering our air quality.
How you can help
You can help prevent ozone pollution by sharing a ride, walking or riding a bicycle, taking your lunch to work, avoiding drive-thru lanes, conserving energy and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.
- Consider riding the bus (more people riding on transit means less cars polluting on the roads)
- Reduce the amount of times you start up your vehicle (combine your errands into one trip)