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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ozone in NE Ohio air ‘typical’; E-Check expected to stay

CLEVELAND: The federal Environmental Protection Agency is expected to improve its designation for the Akron-Cleveland region’s effort in controlling the pollutant ozone, but emissions testing for area vehicles is expected to continue.
Northeast Ohio had a typical year in 2011 for ozone, according to a report the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency released Wednesday.
There were 14 bad-air days in Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties from April 1 through Oct. 31, data show.
The eight-county region typically experiences 15.5 bad-air days, the planning agency said. There were 10 such days in 2010.
The agency’s report said a total of 40 air-monitor readings in the eight counties violated federal limits for the pollutant ozone in 2011.
Ozone is formed when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from vehicles, power plants and industry mix in direct sunlight on hot, sticky, windless days. It can cause breathing problems, especially for the elderly, children and asthmatics.
The EPA is expected to designate the Akron-Cleveland region as a “marginal nonattainment” area for ozone by next spring. The region previously had been in the more serious “moderate nonattainment” category.
The Columbus and Cincinnati areas also are expected to get similar “marginal” designations, and the regions would have three years to comply with federal ozone limits.
E-Check, the vehicle-testing system in all counties of the Akron-Cleveland area except Ashtabula, would remain in effect under the provisions of the federal Clean Air Act.
The region’s marginal status could affect industries that want to move in or expand. They would be forced to arrange offsets or reductions from other companies before they could open or grow.
The eight counties in Northeast Ohio are considered a single clean-air region. A bad-air reading in one county affects all eight.
Summit County failed to comply on six dates: June 6, June 8, June 30, July 1, July 6 and Sept. 2.
Portage County had one violation, July 1, and Medina County two violations, June 8 and July 1.
Data show the air is getting cleaner in Northeast Ohio, but two counties fail to comply with federal limits for ozone.
With the addition of 2011 data, Ashtabula and Lake remain out of compliance. Ashtabula has a three-year ozone average of 78 parts per billion; Lake has a 77.
The federal limit is 75 parts per billion.
The other 2009-2011 totals are Summit, 74; Portage, 67; Medina, 68; Cuyahoga, 75; Geauga, 73; and Lorain, 69.
The 74 reading is the lowest level ever for Summit County.
In 2006-2008, Summit had an ozone level of 82 parts per billion. Portage had a 74, Medina, 72; Cuyahoga, 79; Geauga, 73; Lorain, 74; Ashtabula, 84; and Lake, 78.
The EPA throws out the top three ozone readings. The fourth-highest reading each year becomes the key number. The EPA then maintains a rolling average over three years, and that becomes the official ozone level.
The federal government had been looking at lowering the ozone level to perhaps 70 parts per billion, but the Obama administration has delayed that proposal.

Well, it looks like we Ohioan have to not only keep working at, but maybe work a bit harder at lowering 'our carbon foot print' in reguards to the ozone. I know I for one am as guilty as the rest, but soon I start a new job that is within walking distance and hopefully not only lowers my 'carbon foot print', but also burns off some of these excess calories.