Air Quality

School Idling Pilot Project Concept

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is exploring a pilot program related to vehicle idling around local schools.

Eastgate currently issues daily air quality forecasts and notifies the public when ozone and particle pollution levels are considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups of people. On days with an air quality alert, children, older adults, and those with lung illnesses such as asthma can begin to experience symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing. But when it comes to measuring the particle pollution – found in smoke, soot, and dust – some communities might experience more pollution than others at a given time, especially near schools during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times.

The agency will be exploring types of mobile air quality monitors that could be utilized for such a program as well as building partnerships to make the pilot project as successful as possible. This proposal will be developed over the next fiscal year with an evaluation to take place to determine the feasibility of moving forward with this concept. A successful pilot project could lead to a larger scale project that aims to supplement the data currently provided by the Ohio EPA as an investigative tool to develop recommendations for policy interventions to address the identified results.

If you know someone or are someone who may be interested in learning more and potentially partnering on this project, contact Justin Mondok (jmondok@eastgatecog.org).


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Ozone

What is ground-level ozone and why is it important?

Ozone (O3) is created primarily from chemical reactions between NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that occur in the presence of heat and sunlight. A large share of ozone-generating pollutants are produced by motor vehicles, although any fuel combustion source emits the pollutants that can contribute to ozone formation.

Ozone is a major problem in many urban areas, as well as rural areas downwind of metropolitan regions, where it can reduce lung capacity and increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly.

What can be done to control ozone air pollution?

Control strategies for ozone may comprise a set of regulations that specify emission limits and/or control equipment that are deemed to be reasonable available control technology (RACT), best available control technology (BACT), or lowest achievable emission rates (LAER), depending on the severity of the nonattainment problem in the area.

NOx and VOC control equipment or programs may address specific industrial processes, or focus on on-road vehicles, non-road equipment such as locomotives, and nonpoint sources such as small industrial boilers, dry cleaners, and consumer solvents. Pollution prevention measures such as use of non- or low-VOC content solvents and coatings can also be part of an effective ozone control strategy.

On April 15, 2004, EPA designated 432 counties, including Mahoning and Trumbull counties in our region, and 42 partial counties as nonattainment areas for the 8-hour ozone standard, and these areas face deadlines between 2007 and 2024 (depending on the severity of their ozone problem) for attaining that standard.

On March 15, 2005, EPA announced the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which addresses ozone transport across the boundaries of 25 states and the District of Columbia. CAIR contains reduction targets for NOx during the summer that can be met through a cap-and-trade system for electric utilities.

Particle Pollution

What is Particle Pollution?

Particle pollution or what is also commonly referred to as soot or PM2.5 are tiny solid particles and liquid droplets measuring only 2.5 micrometers in size, or 40 times smaller than a grain of table salt! Particle pollution is released into our air by cars, trucks, power plants, industrial facilities, as well as from residential fireplaces. Unlike ozone, particle pollution does not need sunlight or heat to form. As a result, particle pollution can occur year-round.

Health Concerns

Because of its microscopic size, particle pollution can be inhaled deeply into our lungs causing serious health problems. Exposure to particle pollution can aggravate lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, causing increased medication use and doctor visits.

Particle pollution exposure has also been linked to heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmias. Particle pollution can change the variability of your heart rate making you more susceptible to heart attacks. People with heart disease such as congestive heart disease, coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at greater risk.