Central Ohio First in the Nation to Meet New Air Quality Standard
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) joined representatives of the U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, and City of Columbus to celebrate a clean air milestone.
Central Ohio is the first non-attainment area in the nation to meet the most recent federal air quality standard for ozone. Recent air monitoring data show the Columbus area now meets the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, in addition to all other federal air quality standards set to protect public health.
The Columbus area was designated in 2018 as a marginal nonattainment area for the 2015 ozone NAAQS based on a multifactor analysis, including air-quality monitoring data. Several federal regulations pertaining to fuel standards and motor vehicle emission standards decreased emissions to help achieve the standard in the Columbus area, which includes Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, and Licking Counties.
For many years, MORPC has issued daily air quality forecasts for ozone and particle pollution and notified the public when pollution levels are expected to behave become unhealthy for sensitive groups of people, including children, older adults, and those with breathing difficulties.
Three years of recent monitoring data show the Columbus area met the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. After a public comment process, EPA formally redesignated the Columbus area to attainment and approved Ohio’s plan to ensure that the area will continue to meet the ozone standard. The Columbus area was already in attainment for all other air pollutants regulated under NAAQS.
Ground-level ozone is a colorless, odorless gas produced when emissions from vehicles, lawn equipment and industry combine in the presence of sunlight. Higher levels of ozone pollution that come with sun and high temperatures are especially troublesome for those with sensitive breathing issues or respiratory disease during the warmer months of the year.
MORPC recently partnered with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, which is now broadcasting Air Quality Alerts along with other weather alerts.
MORPC encourages those in the region to take steps to reduce emissions by considering different ways of commuting such as carpooling and taking the bus. With MORPC’s Gohio Commute, residents can explore the many commuting options available in Central Ohio. Other simple actions to take include not idling your vehicle, refueling after dark, and avoiding the use of gas powered lawn equipment on Air Quality Alert days.