Warm temperatures had some people seeing orange. That was the color of the federal Air Quality Index (AQI), meaning “unhealthy air for sensitive groups,” for 15 counties in Wisconsin.
Higher temperatures mean higher ozone levels, which can harm the elderly, young children, and anyone with a respiratory or cardiac disease. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends the website: http://airquality.wi.gov/StateMapping.aspx as a resource for air quality.
Now, as a service, Fond du Lac County UW-Extension will also notify the public when the DNR forecasts unhealthy ozone levels for sensitive groups. Individuals can receive free e-mail or RSS alerts pertinent to Fond du Lac County by signing up at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/healthyair.
“We appreciate the efforts of our local partners, such as Fond du Lac County UW-Extension, in getting the word out when we issue air quality advisories,” said Bart Sponseller, Director, DNR Air Management Bureau. “We can all make simple changes in our routines to help reduce emissions and keep air quality at healthy levels.”
What is Ozone?
Ozone in the upper atmosphere is a good thing, protecting the earth from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. But ground-level ozone is a harmful pollutant. Air Advisories usually occur on hot days with lots of sun and little or no wind. In those conditions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) heat up and form ground-level ozone. The major sources of VOCs and NOx include:
Cars, trucks and buses
Gasoline storage, transfer and refueling
Large utility and industrial facilities
Industrial use of solvents and degreasing agents
Off-road engines such as construction equipment, aircraft, locomotives, boats, and lawn & garden equipment
In summer months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges residents to continue reducing emissions and protecting public health.
Easy Ways to Reduce Ozone
Because most of Fond du Lac County’s ozone-forming pollutants come from everyday activities like driving a car or re-fueling a vehicle, area residents play an important role in reducing emissions. Actions on any summer day –– and especially when there is a poor air quality forecast–– to reduce unhealthy levels of ozone include:
Don’t let your vehicle idle.
Combine errands and reduce trips.
Re-fuel your vehicle after dusk if possible.
Carpool, ride the bus, or bike to work.
Re-schedule or delay lawn mowing using gas-powered equipment until after 6 p.m.