The 5 parish area around Baton Rouge (EBR, WBR, Ascension, Iberville and Livingston) is now subject to a new 8-hour ozone standard. The area is classified as being in “marginal” nonattainment [on a scale of marginal, moderate, serious, severe, and extreme] – so that is pretty good – it means we are close to being in attainment. For those of you in the Lake Charles area and New Orleans area – read this too. You are not out of the woods as your areas are barely in attainment and could go into nonattainment if we have a particularly hot year.
The deadline for the BR Area to achieve attainment is June 15, 2007 – which means time is short. If we do not achieve attainment, we will get “bumped-up” to a higher category and may lose some road projects and other economic development activities. The problem is caused by motor vehicle emissions, industrial operations, some outdoor activities using engines or solvents, by outdoor painting, and by natural sources such as tree emissions. Ozone forms only when the weather conditions are just right – mostly hot days with little wind. We can’t do anything about the trees or the weather, but we can certainly do things about the rest. DEQ has imposed many new requirements on industry over the past 3 years. EPA has enacted more stringent requirements for boat, truck, bus and motorcycle emissions – but those effect only newer cars. There are some things that everyone can do to help. During the summer months (up through the end of October really) – here are the things that EPA and DEQ ask everyday people to do [Please consider doing these to help our area]:
-Keep air conditioners at 75 degrees F or above at home and work to reduce power plant emissions [especially while you’re gone for the day]
-Maintain your vehicle to minimize pollutant emissions and maintain fuel efficiency.
-Limit daytime driving and combine errands.
-Refuel your car in the cooler evening hours. Don’t top off your tank.
-Make certain your gas cap seals tightly. If it is missing, buy a new one. [same thing for lawn mowers and other gas powered equipment]
-Drive “Emission-wise.” Avoid prolonged idling and jackrabbit starts.
-Don’t mow your lawn or use gas powered lawn equipment. If you must use such equipment, wait until after 6:00 p.m.
-Barbecue with electric starter, not fluid starter.
-Conserve energy in your home.
– When possible carpool to work or on weekend outings.
-Walk or ride a bicycle for short trips.
-[For LSU and Southern fans – don’t idle your RVs while tailgating if the weather is hot and still]
It is a good idea to follow these suggestions all the time, but particularly on ozone action days. To check if there is an ozone action day – see http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/evaluation/ozone/oz_today.asp