Ozone Action Day issued Tuesday for Lake Charles - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Ozone Action Day issued Tuesday for Lake Charles

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's a dangerous combination that DEQ officials say could be amplified on Tuesday. "Direct sunlight, no cloud cover, high temperatures, and very little wind mixed with volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide," explained Cindy Lucowitz, Louisiana DEQ environmental scientist.

Factors Lucowitz says contributes to ground level ozone or smog. While Southwest Louisiana has maintained healthy air quality levels for more than ten years - the EPA has decided to make the current emissions standard even tougher.

"I think everyone's a little nervous about it. Industry is going to come under much stricter regulations for coming into a nonattainment area," said Lucowitz.  

The new standards won't be released until August 31, 2010 but Lucowitz says several parishes meeting the current standard may potentially be designated nonattainment.

Falling out of compliance with EPA standards can hit consumers hard in several areas:

Mandated use of specially more costly, formulated gasoline and vapor collection systems at the pump resulting in high cost of fuel for cars, trucks, farm equipment, lawn and garden equipment.

Higher costs for establishing and operating new businesses; higher costs of expansions for local industry and businesses due to the more complex regulations and mandates.

Stricter more detailed, higher-cost annual automobile inspections to insure emission control systems are properly functioning.

The air quality could prove unhealthy for sensitive groups. Increasing ozone levels may cause unhealthy air quality during afternoon hours. Active children and adults, the elderly and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor activities and exertion.

Area residents are encouraged to take one or more of the following during an ozone action day:

- Drive less. Carpool, walk and bike, combine errands and care for your car. Be sure your gas cap is on tight.

- Refuel your vehicle, mow grass and use gas powered lawn equipment and off road vehicles after 6 p.m.

- Postpone chores that use oil based paint, varnishes and solvents that produce flame.

- If you barbeque, use an electric starter instead of starter fluid.

- Take your lunch to work or walk to lunch.

- Conserve energy in your home.

Habits Lucowitz says on a daily basis could promote long-term change.

"When you have enough people doing that it will dramatically cut down on the emissions in the area," said Lucowitz.  

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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