Ozone | St. Louis Public Radio

Ozone

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Ozone pollution in St. Louis has slightly improved, according to the 2018 State of the Air report released this month by the American Lung Association. Despite the improvements, the metro area is still ranked the 29th most polluted in the nation.

Susannah Fuchs, the director of clean air at the American Lung Association in Missouri, said one of the reasons St. Louis is still on the list is because of stricter clean air standards.

A school bus.
Vipal | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources proposes spending the $41 million it received from the Volkswagen settlement last year on replacing school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles. 

The German automaker agreed to spend billions of dollars to settle allegations of cheating emissions standards. Missouri is among the states that received some of those funds to address nitrogen dioxide emissions. Nitrogen dioxide is a component of ozone pollution, which can cause respiratory health issues, such as asthma. 

Heavy-duty vehicles are a major contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A report released Monday finds that two power plants in Arkansas are partly responsible for poor air quality in St. Louis. 

Scientists from California-based Sonoma Technologies Inc. analyzed nitrogen oxide emissions, a component of ozone pollution, detected by air monitors in the St. Louis region in 2011. Their measurements revealed that Entergy's Independence and White Bluffs plants, located about 210 and 300 miles southwest of St. Louis, contributed emissions well above the federal standard for several days that year. The Sierra Club commissioned the study.

ozone air pollution St. Louis
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The St. Louis metro area has one of the worst smog levels in the country. In recent years, ozone levels have declined, but the region must  comply with stronger federal air quality standards set last year. 

Under the 2008 standard, St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin and Jefferson counties had exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone limit at 75 parts per billion. After 2013, ozone levels in the area dropped and state officials say the counties comply with the 2008 standard. However, a new EPA rule last year lowered the standard to 70 parts per billion. State officials are now asking the EPA to indicate that the region meets the old ozone regulations, but not the new. 

Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

There's good ozone and there's bad ozone. The good kind sits up high up in the stratosphere, protecting us from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The bad kind is formed by burning fossil fuels and is found in the smog in Los Angeles and China. 

Bad ozone can cause health problems for children, for the elderly and people with lung diseases like asthma. It can also harm other living things, like plants. But like other greenhouse gases, it is invisible. So it's hard for scientists to show people the effects of bad ozone, which contributes to climate change, said Jack Fishman, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Saint Louis University. 

To get the message across, in recent years, Fishman and other researchers at SLU set up special gardens funded by NASA to demonstrate how ozone levels affect living organisms. Their work is expanding now that they've received a $91,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to exhibit such plants year-round in "ozone chambers."

ozone air pollution St. Louis
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Since last fall, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for an administrative rule to tighten standards on “ground-level ozone,” better known as smog, business and environmental groups have been fighting over what might seem to most of us to be minute differences on a grand scale. In anticipation of the new standard, both of Missouri’s U.S. senators have introduced separate bills to limit the rule’s economic impact on businesses, and state and local governments.

Ameren Power Plant
Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Missouri business leaders, oppose what some have labeled as the Obama administration’s “most expensive regulation ever.” The proposed rule would reduce ground-level ozone, or smog, from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion. The current standards of the Clean Air Act were set in 2008.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
Syracuse University News Services

Cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would also reduce other types of air pollution, both here in Missouri and nationally.

That's according to a recent analysis by researchers at Harvard and Syracuse Universities.

Along with carbon dioxide, coal-fired power plants emit other pollutants, like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Those in turn can contribute to forming particle pollution, ozone, and smog.

ozone air pollution St. Louis
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

A new report by the American Lung Association finds that the St. Louis metro area still

has high levels of ozone pollution, the main ingredient in smog.

The annual State of the Air report ranked St. Louis 13th out of 217 metro areas in the country for ozone pollution. That’s worse than St. Louis performed in last year’s report, although the trend over recent decades has been gradual improvement.

Saint Louis University | Provided

It’s a stretch to think about summer now. 

But close your eyes and imagine.

The sun is shining; bees are buzzing; your arms move through warm air; you even have to mop a thin veil of perspiration from your brow. And on the news in the morning, Geri Mitchell intones the familiar admonition: “It’s a red air quality day. Sensitive groups should avoid exercising outdoors.”

SLU Students Help NASA Ozone Study Soar Over Saint Louis

Aug 19, 2013
(Art Chimes)

If you happen to be near the Saint Louis Science Center planetarium at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, look up. You might see a weather balloon.

Students at Saint Louis University are launching them as part of a study sponsored by the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission aims to improve our understanding of air pollution and global climate.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

A report released today by the American Lung Association shows that air pollution in the St. Louis region has recently increased.

The annual report ranks the St. Louis area 12th worst among U.S. metropolitan regions for particulate pollution and 25th for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.

Susannah Fuchs is the Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association’s Plains-Gulf Region, which includes Missouri.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio (left) and Art Chimes (right)

 

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Warming temperatures may have you wanting to spend more time outdoors. But warm weather can mean more unhealthy air.

Susannah Fuchs of the American Lung Association says our region’s sunny, hot, nearly windless summer weather creates the perfect conditions for the formation of ozone – the main component of smog.

Report ranks St. Louis 10th smoggiest U.S. city

Sep 22, 2011

A new report released today by the advocacy group Environment Missouri ranks St. Louis as the 10th smoggiest metropolitan area in the country.

(via Flickr/Toehk)

The Saint Louis University School of Public Health is launching a study to look at the effects of urban air pollution on pregnant women in China.

SLU epidemiologist Zhengmin Qian says the research will track the pregnancies of 100,000 women in Wuhan, a city of nine million people in central China.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 4, 2008 - Editor's Note: In his column of June 4, George Johnson laid out four environmental problems and the responses to them so far. Now, he uses that groundwork to discuss the role of science in identifying environmental problems, educating the public and finding soutions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008  - This week, the Senate began considering legislation to combat global warming. A carbon dioxide emissions “cap-and-trade” system, it seems to have little chance of becoming law. It is, however, a welcome sign that our government is beginning to come to grips with a problem that has the entire world worried. In this week’s column I would like to step back and consider the science behind the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We as a nation cannot hope to implement the sort of changes necessary to achieve a sustainable world if we as citizens do not clearly understand the nature of the problem we face.