DEP ANNOUNCES FIRST OZONE EXCEEDANCE OF THE SEASON
Reminds People that Vehicle Emissions Play a Significant
Role in Ozone Levels
(04/49) Trenton -- The
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
today announced that yesterday was the first day in 2004
when New Jersey exceeded the federal 8-hour health-based
"With the start of ozone season, residents need to
be aware of the potential health impacts on high ozone days
- irritation of the lungs, increased incidents of asthma,
and aggravation of chronic lung diseases," said DEP
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "New Jersey residents
can help reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollutants by
minimizing unnecessary driving, taking public transportation,
fueling cars in the evening, not topping off gas tanks,
and limiting vehicle idling."
Ozone season typically runs from around May through Labor
Day when high temperatures contribute to increased formation
of ground-level ozone. During this time, DEP alerts the
public when forecasts call for high levels of ozone. On
these days, children and people with asthma should reduce
outdoor activities while healthy individuals should reduce
strenuous outdoor activities such as jogging, especially
during the afternoon and early evening when ozone levels
are at their highest.
Under Governor James E. McGreevey's leadership, the state
has begun a number of initiatives to address air quality.
These include being the first state ever to negotiate the
shutdown of a dirty power plant outside its borders; securing
significant emission reductions in enforcement cases against
several utilities; proposing the most stringent regulations
of mercury emissions in the nation; and preparing a comprehensive
set of initiatives to reduce emissions from diesel engines.
Last month, the federal government declared that 474 counties
nationwide fail to attain the new, protective 8-hour health
standard for ozone levels in the air. New Jersey is one
of only five states where every county fails to meet the
new ozone standard. As a result, New Jersey has until 2010
to implement additional measures to meet the standard.
In 2003, New Jersey exceeded the new federal health standard
for ozone on 20 days.
"Attaining the new federal health standard for ozone
in New Jersey would eliminate about 40,000 asthma attacks
each year and substantially reduce hospital admissions and
emergency room visits among children and adults with asthma
and other respiratory diseases," said Commissioner
Campbell. "However, up to one-third of the state's
air pollution comes from out-of-state sources. The Bush
Administration must halt its rollbacks of critical air quality
protections and provide effective federal leadership and
new regulations to control emissions from upwind states.
Otherwise, we will not be able to provide New Jersey's residents
with the quality of air they deserve."
Example of rollbacks by the Bush Administration include
an attempt to change the "new source review" (NSR)
provisions of the Clean Air Act to allow dirty, upwind power
plants to keep operating indefinitely without installing
pollution controls. New Jersey has joined several other
states in suing the EPA to halt this proposed change. The
Bush EPA has also proposed mercury rules that would delay
implementation of meaningful reductions in mercury emissions
for up to a generation and even then not implement as protective
a reduction as the Clean Air Act requires.
The federal ozone health standard is a concentration of
0.08 parts per million (ppm) averaged over eight hours (8-hour
average). In 1997, this more protective standard replaced
the earlier standard of 0.12 ppm averaged over one hour
(1-hour average) after studies demonstrated health impacts
from prolonged exposure to lower levels of ozone.
Yesterday, an air monitor in Ancora in eastern Camden recorded
a maximum 8-hour average ozone concentration of 0.092 ppm
and a monitor in Colliers Mills in western Ocean County
had a 0.094 ppm 8-hour average.
Ozone occurs naturally in the upper regions of the atmosphere
and is critical to shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet
radiation. In the lower atmosphere, where the air we breathe
lies, ozone is a harmful air pollutant, contributing to
the formation of smog. Ground-level ozone is formed when
pollutants emitted by automobiles and industrial facilities
react in the presence of sunlight. Ozone pollution is especially
of concern during the summer months when the weather conditions
needed to form elevated levels of ground-level ozone normally
A copy of a recent DEP report detailing the McGreevey Administration's
clean air initiatives is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep.
Daily ozone and air quality forecasts are available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/airmon.