In order to prevent the valley air basin from exceeding critical 1-hour ozone levels, local air officials are declaring the season's first Air Alert, to begin Monday, Aug. 19 and continue through Wednesday, Aug. 21.
The annual notification program addresses ozone (smog) levels that correlate to increased vehicle use, including back-to-school traffic. About 80 percent of the valley's ozone is caused by vehicle use, and during back-to-school week, vehicle idling is also a major air-quality concern.
“In the past couple of years, we have had an extraordinary level of cooperation by the public in keeping these ozone levels down, and we are again asking for their participation,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District's executive director and air pollution control officer.
Going above the limit not only threatens the health of valley residents but also contributes to the possibility of the continuation of an annual $29 million federal penalty.
Air Alerts are declared valley-wide when conditions such as increased emissions, high temperatures and stagnant air flow are favorable for ozone levels to exceed federal, health-based standards.
During an Air Alert episode, which may last several days, residents and businesses are urged to reduce vehicle miles traveled, including refraining from vehicle idling, carpooling or van pooling and avoiding the use of drive-through services. Other measures, such as shifting ozone-creating activities including lawn maintenance to early mornings, can also help offset rising ozone levels.
For more information about Air Alerts, visit www.valleyair.org, www.healthyairliving.com or call the district office in Modesto at 4800 Enterprise Way (209) 557 -6400.