Monday, October 6, 2003

Louisville makes progress: fewer summer smog days

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Local leaders credit wetter weather and voluntary pollution cuts by Jefferson County businesses for the area having fewer smoggy days this past summer.

However, a preliminary report by the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District shows the area continues to exceed a tough federal standard for ground-level ozone. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials say they will start enforcingit next year.

"We still need to improve air quality," said Art Williams, director of the district, which enforces the federal Clean Air Act in Jefferson County.

Future gains are essential for public health and economic health, Williams said, noting that failing to meet federal standards can result in penalties.

A preliminary report from the district released Saturday shows this year's smog record was the best since 1998, when the EPA first required communities to track ground-level ozone using the tougher standard. Since the smog season began on March 1, the Louisville metro area, including Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana, exceeded that standard 11 times on seven days. By comparison, the area last year topped the eight-hour standard 78 times on 26 days.

The official summer smog season ends Oct. 31. But because fall weather has returned, ozone levels are expected to remain low until hot weather makes a comeback.

Mother Nature gave the Louisville area a break, said Patrick Waidley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. May, June, July and August were significantly cooler than normal, he said, while rainfall was above normal. That's the opposite of summer 2002, which was hot, dry and smoggy.

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Sunday's local news report