Residents Can Sign Up for Air Quality Alerts Online or By Phone
March 1 kicks off the start of ozone monitoring season – a time when air pollution can reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups of individuals. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is part of a network of agencies across the country that issues daily air quality forecasts and notifies the public when these levels become a threat to public health.
Central Ohio experiences higher levels of ozone pollution during the warmer, spring and summer months. Ground-level ozone is a gas produced when emissions from vehicles, lawn equipment and industry combine in the presence of sunlight. MORPC also monitors particle pollution, a mixture of solids and liquid droplets in the air, from sources including car and truck exhaust, electrical power plants, and industrial facilities.
MORPC uses the Air Quality Index (AQI) to inform the public about daily ozone and particle pollution levels in Central Ohio. The AQI scale runs from 0 to 300 — the higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern. When levels register above 100, air quality is considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes people with respiratory and heart disease, children, and older adults. MORPC issues an Air Quality Alert to the public when pollution levels are forecasted to reach 101 or higher.
Sensitive groups are more likely to suffer an increase in the number and severity of symptoms during an Air Quality Alert. Individuals who are active outdoors should be aware of respiratory or cardiovascular effects resulting from unhealthy air including coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Individuals in sensitive groups are urged to limit prolonged outdoor exertion to decrease the potential for health problems. Exposure to air pollution can be reduced by conducting strenuous outdoor activities in the morning when pollution levels are generally lower.
To help to reduce emissions contributing to air pollution, residents are encouraged to choose alternative modes of transportation such as carpooling, biking, walking, or taking the bus. With MORPC’s Gohio Commute available at morpc.gohio.com, residents can explore the many commuting options available in Central Ohio. Other simple actions to take for air quality include not idling vehicles, refueling vehicles in the evening hours, and avoiding the use of gas-powered lawn equipment on Air Quality Alert days.
To learn more about MORPC’s Air Quality Program or to sign up for alerts, visit www.morpc.org/airquality or by calling MORPC’s toll-free air quality hotline at 1.888.666.1009. English and Spanish language options are available. Those who wish to sign up for notifications through ALERT Franklin County can visit alertfranklincounty.org.