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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2010

Ground-level ‘Ozone Awareness Week’ announced

COLUMBIA - Gov. Mark Sanford has proclaimed March 28 - April 3 as Ground-level Ozone Awareness Week, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

“During the warmer months, ground-level ozone is our state’s most widespread air quality concern,” said Myra C. Reece, chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality. “High ground-level ozone concentrations generally occur on hot sunny days when the air is stagnant. Ground-level ozone is formed when nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds react in sunlight. Ground-level ozone can create breathing problems, especially for children, people with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outdoors. Ground-level ozone can also cause tree and crop damage.”

Reece said April 1 marks the beginning of the forecasting service for ground-level ozone concentrations in South Carolina.

“We provide ozone forecasts based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s eight-hour ground-level ozone standard, which is currently 0.075 parts per million,” Reece said. “Forecasts are provided for most of the state to heighten awareness of the effects of ground-level ozone and help the public make healthy decisions about outdoor activities.

“The forecast provides important air quality information such as ground-level ozone forecasts and ozone action days,” she said. “Ozone action days, are days when the ground-level ozone levels are anticipated to be higher and eveyone should reduce their exertion level outdoors and those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, should stay indoors or limit outdoor activities as much as possible.”

Reece said people can access the information in several ways:

  • Via the EPA’s EnviroFlash Web page: EnviroFlash can direct the ozone forecast to an e-mail address or pager as soon as the ground level forecast is made. To sign up, go to: http://www.enviroflash.info/.
  • Via accessing the DHEC Web site at: http://www.scdhec.gov/ozone
  • Via telephone at: 1-866-238-4973 (toll free).

“DHEC encourages the public to use mass transit, carpool and make one trip to run all errands to help reduce ozone levels during ground-level ozone season,” Reece said. “Vehicles, trucks and gas-powered engines are primary sources of nitrogen oxides which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.”

Reece said groups or organizations interested in finding out more about ground-level ozone or participating in the “Take a Break from the Exhaust,” a program to encourage the use of alternative commuting options, may contact Jack Porter at 803-898-3829.

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For more information:
Jack Porter - (803) 898-3829
E-mail - porterje@dhec.sc.gov
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