ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 21, 1998) -- In an effort to get Marylanders to "do their share for cleaner air," Governor Parris N. Glendening proclaimed Thursday, May 21 as Ozone Awareness Day in Maryland. This designation also launches the start of the Ozone Action Days partnership for 1998.
As the summer gets underway, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council are continuing a partnership with more than 100 local and county governments, businesses, and private organizations to voluntarily reduce air pollution sources when serious ozone pollution days are predicted.
"Ozone Action Days are prime examples of what the public and private sectors can do to protect our environment and health," said Governor Glendening. "Each of us must do our share for cleaner air."
An Ozone Action Day is called when meteorologist forecast a multi-day Code Orange (moderately unhealthful) episode or a Code Red (unhealthful) day. A forecast for a Code Red day also means that the National Ambient Air Quality Standard, established by the federal Clean Air Act, is forecasted to be exceeded.
Ground-level ozone is an invisible gas which is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) "cook" in hot sunlight and high temperatures. The primary sources of VOCs and NOx include automobiles, power plants, small businesses, small gasoline-powered engines, and consumer products such as paints and household cleaners. High concentrations of ozone can aggravate heart and respiratory problems and cause lung damage. The young, elderly, and those with pre-existing lung conditions are particularly at risk. Maryland experienced 14 Code Red days last summer, 4 Code Red days in 1996 and 14 Code Red days in 1995.
On Ozone Action Days, participants can delay or reschedule certain manufacturing operations: encourage employees and customers to postpone lawn mowing; minimize the use of herbicides and pesticides; avoid routine maintenance, delay highway painting and asphalt paving; conserve energy; and reschedule printing jobs.
Four years ago, MDE started an ozone forecasting system to alert the public, through the media, to air quality conditions and predictions, ranging from Code Green (good) to Code Red. This was followed by the creation of an Ozone Map for television by MDE and the American Lung Association of Maryland to show viewers a real-time depiction of ozone pollution in their area. Ozone forecasting also was expanded to the Washington, D.C. area.