Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ozone Alert: St. Louis Is Becoming a `Serious' Polluter Most Recent Violation of Clean Air Standard Was Summer's Third

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ozone Alert: St. Louis Is Becoming a `Serious' Polluter Most Recent Violation of Clean Air Standard Was Summer's Third

Article excerpt

When is a hot, sunny day dangerous to your health?

Today. Tuesday, too. And most likely, Thursday.

An excess of ground-level ozone - that's a dangerous combination of a high temperature, sunlight and automobile emissions - prompted the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri to issue an air pollution advisory Monday and Tuesday. A similar advisory is expected today.

To date, the metropolitan area has exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for air pollution three times this year: on June 24, on Monday and on Tuesday. Those recent violations most likely will boost us from a "moderate" ozone polluter category to a "serious" category.

"That will happen - almost definitely - in November of 1996," said Roger Randolph, director of Missouri's air pollution control program. With the new category comes stronger anti-pollution regulations, he said. That might mean more costly gasoline, restrictions on industrial expansion and fewer road improvements.

Ground-level ozone, unlike the layer of stratospheric ozone that protects us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, hurts human health. We can't do anything about the high temperature or the bright sunshine, but we are to blame for some of the problem. Auto emissions account for 40 percent to 50 percent of the production of ground-level ozone.

Nationally, the EPA ranks one area (Los Angeles) as "extreme" in ozone air pollution, nine as "severe," 12 as "serious," 33 (including the St. Louis metropolitan area) as "moderate" and 41 as "marginal."

The EPA allows a region to top the maximum safe ozone level no more than three times at any of its monitoring stations during a three-year period. Last year, the 17 stations in St. Louis and surrounding counties on both sides of the Mississippi River recorded eight violations.

During conditions like the current ones, people with heart and lung ailments should minimize physical activity and avoid going outdoors, said Don Kueneke, director of environmental lung health for the regional American Lung Association.

Ozone can cause headaches, fatigue and irritation in the eyes, nose and respiratory tract. …

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