Oklahoma City area has record number of ozone alert days in 2012

Oklahoma City has had 19 ozone alert days so far this year. Yet air quality in the city is improving, officials say. Metro Transit buses are offering free rides Friday for the final time this year as part of an effort to improve air quality.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Modified: September 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm •  Published: September 19, 2012
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“A lot of things have happened with our automobiles to make them a lot cleaner than they used to be,” Goeller said.

What is an alert day?

An ozone alert day is declared whenever the pollution rises to a level that can have adverse effects on children, seniors, people with respiratory illnesses and people who work outside for prolonged periods.

Hot, still days make it worse, so it's no surprise the last two summers in Oklahoma have produced quite a few alert days in the metro area.

“There's normally a high pressure system sitting on top of us (in extreme heat), which means not much wind, no mixing to speak of, no new air coming in, and air pollution just gets that much worse,” Goeller said.

Air quality improvement is tied to federal funding grants related to air pollution. Cities have to either be in compliance with federal air quality rules or have a sound plan to reduce air pollution in order to keep receiving the funds.

Central Oklahoma's plan has proved to be in line with what federal officials want so far, despite the high number of ozone alert days this year, Baker said.

Free bus rides Friday

As part of local efforts to combat poor air quality, Metro Transit is offering its final free ride day of the year Friday. Anyone can ride Metro Transit buses on any route at any time Friday for free.

Officials have said Metro Transit's free rides program is intended to help reduce pollution by getting more people to share a ride and to increase ridership.



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