Saturday, June 10, 2000

Smog returns to Tristate

Summer's 1st alert issued today, despite better air quality

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This year's first smog alert has been issued for today and Sunday.

        That means Tristate air quality is potentially “unhealthy” for sensitive groups such as the elderly, children and people with respiratory illness such as asthma.

        The Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services advises people at risk to protect their lungs by minimizing outdoor activity and taking frequent breaks from physical activity.

        To reduce pollution, officials urge all residents to minimize auto travel, conserve electricity, fill gas tanks after 6 p.m. and use gas-powered lawn equipment after 6 p.m.

        An alert means the conditions are ideal for unhealthy levels of smog. An air quality violation actually occurs once when the air quality index, a measure of ozone, exceeds 101.

        As of 7 p.m. Friday, the air quality index was 98.

        This year's first smog alert comes at about the same time as last year's first alert (June 6). This weekend's alert also comes even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now considers Greater Cincinnati in full attainment of federal air quality standards.

        Should pollution levels cause an air quality violation, it would not immediately affect the area's status. Reconsideration would require repeated violations.

        However, even in attainment status the area must continue the pollution-reducing policies that helped achieve the cleaner air. Those policies include reformulated gas in Kentucky, E-Check emissions tests in Ohio and discounted bus fares to encourage ridership.

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