Wichita, Kansas — The summer heat is upon us. So is the ozone.
“The alert means we have to do what we can to get the ozone level down,” says Tonya Bronleewe with the City of Wichita. “If not, then we could face some serious regulations that could cost us all.”
Ozone levels are expected to be high on Friday. To help keep the levels down, the city and county are asking for your help.
“Ozone is a harmful pollutant,” explains Bronleewe. “You can carpool. You fill up your gas tank at night instead of during the day. You can hold off on mowing your lawn until evening.”
And don’t paint. Turns out paint puts out volatile organic compounds. All adding to a higher ozone level.
You can see the signs on the interstates. Those signs point to the ozone warning, asking residents to carpool.
But will Wichita residents respond?
“Yeah, I saw something on a billboard when I was driving through Kellogg,” says Wichita business owner Angelo Rodriguez. “But hold off on filling up my car? I’m really not too sure… I’m a business owner. I kind of go with the flow. If I’m on one side of town and I’m out of gas, I may have to stop and get gas.”
“I guess I’m not very knowledgeable about all that,” says motorist Jay Wassall. “But fill up later? Yeah, sure. I’d try to. Sometimes you’ve just got to fit things into your schedule when you can, unfortunately.”
Wichita will be watching ozone levels closely. If Wichita goes over, it could add up. The metro area gets a few “free” days to go over the limit. After four, it can add up to new regulations from the Feds.
So, what will the Feds do if we continue to go over the ozone limit allowed for our area?
“And if we are over the set limits we go what’s called out of attainment,” says Bronleewe. “Which means we get a lot of rules put on us as a community from the EPA.”
“It might cost you something. Reformulated gas might be something at the pump every individual could pay more. Businesses might get stricter regulations, and that could cost us jobs as new companies looking to relocate consider. Also, our highway funds may be hit as well so these are all potentials but they are all options.”
There are health consequences as well.
“Anyone with breathing issues,” says Bronleewe. “They could have a hard time and should stay inside. Even healthy individuals could feel a tighness in their chest.”
Wichita’s ozone on Thursday afternoon was in the low 50’s. 75 is the limit. They will be watching.