The development of a voluntary clean air action plan for the Four-State Area was discussed at length Tuesday by members of a regional group that met at Joplin’s City Hall.
The group was formed in response to air monitoring that shows the Joplin area has, in recent years, exceeded federal standards for ground-level ozone.
Ground-level ozone is one of six principal pollutants that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified as harmful to public health and the environment. Ground-level ozone can aggravate asthma and increase people’s susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.
Dan Pekarek, head of the Joplin Health Department and chairman of the group, said the group’s goal is to complete the plan in the first quarter of next year so that it can be implemented next summer when ground-level ozone is at its highest concentrations.
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react in the atmosphere with sunlight and heat. Since ozone requires sunlight and heat to form, it becomes a concern in April through October.
The group discussed elements of an action plan that will identify ways in which ground-level ozone can be reduced through voluntary measures. Most of the ozone in the Joplin area is generated by upwind sources and vehicular traffic.
The group plans to create a greater public awareness of ground-level ozone through an educational campaign that will show what individuals, businesses and organizations can do to reduce the pollutant.
Something as simple as not using a gas-powered lawn mower during the heat of a summer day could affect ground-level ozone. Conserving energy by turning off lights and appliances could reduce emissions from power plants.
Public service announcements, utility-bill inserts and an educational video are ways in which the group plans to create greater public awareness of the issue.
THE ACTION PLAN will focus primarily on Jasper and Newton counties in Missouri, but counties upwind from the two-county area eventually will be included. Those counties would be McDonald County in Missouri, Ottawa County in Oklahoma, Cherokee County in Kansas and Benton County in Arkansas.