August & September 2012
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Ozone Levels Higher in 2012

In the hot summer that northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan are experiencing, we are also seeing higher levels of ground-level ozone than in recent years.

The four stages of air quality from best to worst are Good; Satisfactory; Precautionary Measures Should be Taken by Sensitive Groups; and Caution. In both 2010 and 2011, by mid-July we had two days at the third level (precautionary measures…). In 2012, that number is 18 days. We have also experienced more Satisfactory days in 2012 and fewer Good days.

These levels, while significantly higher than in the recent past, are not record highs. Dave Gedeon of TMACOG notes that, “We are getting numbers now that are around 75 to 80 parts per billion and we used to have trouble staying below 125 ten to fifteen years ago.”

Ozone Action Season is May through September, with the highest readings of ground-level ozone usually occurring in the first half of that span. During Ozone Action Season, ozone forecasts are issued by the City of Toledo Division of Environmental Services two or more times a week. Forecasts are based on temperature, wind speed, and amount of sunshine expected. Ozone tends to accumulate on hot, still, sunny days.

Private vehicles and household energy use are among the largest sources of ozone. Individual actions can reduce the amount of ozone produced. When the forecast is for hot weather and the risk for ozone production is elevated, consider using public transit or riding a bicycle. Avoid pumping gas. Put off using grills until the weather cools in the evening. Reduce household energy use by moderating the thermostat on air conditioners and reducing use of appliances.

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