The Lake Area is dangerously close to not meeting Federal air pollution standards. And that could eventually affect everyone.
The pollutant at issue is ground level ozone more commonly known as smog. If the area is determined not to comply with the EPA standard, it could hurt economic development and cause prospective industries to go elsewhere.
In the upper atmosphere, ozone helps protect us from the harmful effects of the sun. But at ground level ozone is a pollutant formed when sunlight reacts with certain chemicals. Ozone is smog and makes it harder to breathe.
Many activities add to the pollution from industry to cars--even fumes when you cut the grass or fire up the grill.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is sounding the alarm, because within the next couple of years, this area could be considered out of compliance-- not because the air is worse, but because the standard is likely to get stricter.
DEQ environmental scientist Michael Vince says being branded non attainment could cause prospective industries to look elsewhere. "If you're an industry and you're looking to locate a manufacturing business or any type of operation here in the Lake Charles area, you would have to comply with more strenuous permitting requirements as a result of becoming non attainment. That's going to cost them more money for permit applications. It's going to cost them more money for control equipment."
Vince and other DEQ officials met with industry, business and government officials to suggest strategies for staying in line with the EPA rules. He suggests the community participate in the EPA Ozone Advance program. "The Ozone Advance Program really allows an area that is attainment to implement strategies and to document their successes over a period of time so that, if the standard does change, that EPA has something that they can look back on for the area to show that you've been proactive. And then maybe they can use a little bit of discretion," said Vince.
He says everyone can do their part to help cut back on the pollution from driving less, to cutting the grass after six p.m., and by saving electricity. Check out these tips.
One way to stay on top of the situation is to sign up for DEQ Enviroflash to receive notices of bad air quality days.