Ozone

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.”

(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.

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.