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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 5/15/01
01/50
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

SUMMER SMOG SEASON BEGINS;
NEW JERSEY CHARTS PROGRESS IN CLEAN AIR STRATEGIES

[Find out today's Air Quality]State and regional officials kicked off the start of the summer smog season today, noting that while progress is being made in reducing ozone levels, air quality remains a serious health concern, and urged residents to take steps to reduce emissions and the associated health risks.

"In our highly industrialized society, we're all part of the problem, but there are simple steps each of us can take to be part of the solution," said Deputy State Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Tudor during an awards ceremony in Philadelphia today designed to encourage more businesses and agencies to participate in the Ozone Action Partnership, a tri-state program to increase ozone awareness among employee groups and the general public.

While the summer ozone season normally runs from mid-May through September, New Jersey has already had six days this month when the air was unhealthful due to high ozone levels. Ozone, or smog, forms when air pollutants from cars, power plants and other combustion sources combine in the heat of the summer sun. Small children, the elderly, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to the effects of ozone, which can decrease lung function even in healthy individuals.

According to new state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) figures, from 1990 to 1996, emissions of ozone-forming pollutants dropped approximately 30 percent. In addition, a new federal report shows states in the Northeast are reducing emissions of ozone-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and are on target for meeting federally-established NOx emission reduction goals. New Jersey NOx emissions dropped from 15,390 tons in 1999 to 14,630 tons in 2000. In comparison, New Jersey's NOx emissions totaled 46,963 tons in 1990.

"By working with other states to reduce the amount of ozone-forming pollutants that travel on prevailing winds from region to region, educating the public about steps they can take to help reduce ozone formation, developing regulations to further pollution controls, and focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy, New Jersey is on course to solving its ozone problem," said DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn.

To reduce ozone levels and related health risks, businesses and agencies can join the Ozone Action Partnership to be automatically notified when ozone levels are expected to be unhealthful so workers can carpool, telecommute or take other actions to reduce emissions and exposure.

Individuals are encouraged to consolidate trips, carpool, use public transportation, limit use of gasoline-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, and avoid car idling. It is recommended that healthy persons avoid strenuous outdoor activity such as jogging, and at-risk populations reduce outdoor activities. For more information, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/airmon/ozact.htm

To be placed on a list for electronic notification of unhealthy ozone levels, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/airmon and click on "Forecasts Via E-mail." Residents also can tune in to New Jersey Network where the Nightly News weather reports include local ozone forecasts, or call the DEP Air Quality Hotline at 1-800-782-0160 for a pre-recorded message on the day's air quality and tomorrow's forecast.

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