Ozone pollution occurs primarily in the hot summer months when emissions from a variety of sources, including industry, automobiles and smaller, gas-powered engines, chemically react in the presence of sunshine to form a harmful ground-level pollutant. Not to be confused with upper atmosphere ozone which provides protection from ultra-violet rays, ground-level ozone is harmful to the health of all humans, particularly the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory disease.
In recent summers, the Denver metropolitan and North Front Range areas have exceeded federal ozone limits, and in 2007 were designated as “nonattainment” for 8-hour federal ground-level ozone standards. The EPA has given the area until 2015 to meet the federal standard. The nonattainment area includes the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, and portions of Larimer and Weld.
Because ground-level ozone pollution is generated by so many different sources, there is no single solution to its prevention. However, it has been determined that one, relatively simple action has an immediate and significant impact. Studies show that the reduction of emissions from faulty or missing automobile gas caps can bring about a meaningful reduction in the region’s ozone readings especially during the hot summer months. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Regional Air Quality Council, Envirotest Systems, the American Lung Association of Colorado, NAPA Auto Parts and KHOW Radio have joined together implement a program – Put a Cap on Ozone – that replaces faulty gas caps with new gas caps during the height of the summer months essentially for FREE.
Put a Cap on Ozone will help to reduce ground-level ozone pollution and contribute to efforts to bring the area back into compliance.
For more information on solving the ozone problem, call the Regional Air Quality Council at 303-629-5450, or visit www.raqc.org.