We have a serious smog problem in Georgia. Thirteen counties in metro Atlanta are currently in “nonattainment” for ground-level ozone because the region doesn’t meet federal air quality standards. Other areas in the state may also be in nonattainment soon. Poor air quality affects us all – it poses hazards to our health, the environment and our economic progress.
Smog is a mixture of gases and particulates in the air. Ground-level ozone, the primary component, is created when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of summertime heat and sunlight. The “dust” you see in the air on high-smog days in made up of soot, smoke, dust and other small particles.
There are two important points to know about the location of ozone in our environment:
- Ozone is “good up high”, 10 – 15 miles above the Earth’s surface, where it filters harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun and reduces the amount reaching the Earth’s surface
- Ozone is “bad nearby”, at ground level – where we live, work and play – and irritates and can damage the lungs. It is also a main ingredient in urban smog.
Currently, more that 80% of smog-forming air pollutants emitted in metro Atlanta comes from sources that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division cannot regulate through permits. The largest share of pollutants comes from cars and trucks.
How can you help reduce air pollution?
- Combine trips and errands
- Carpool, use mass transit, tele-work, bike, or walk when possible
- Keep cars, lawn equipment and boats tuned up
- Limit idling, avoiding jackrabbit starts and drive within the speed limit
- Do not top off your gas tank
- Properly inflate your tires for better gas mileage
- Have your care emissions-tested as required by law. (testing locations)
- Refuel vehicles in the evening on “Smog Alert Days”
- Use electric or natural gas grills instead of charcoal and lighter fluid
- Use environmentally-safe paints and cleaning products
- Keep thermostats high in Summer and low in Winter