Caddo ozone levels reach EPA's limit
Parish faces non-attainment
It's hard to escape ozone pollution. The pollutant is caused from our cars, industrial emissions and much more. Caddo Parish Public Works Engineer Ken Ward says the parish's ozone rates have gone beyond the federal limit, which will cause the EPA to label us a non-attainment area. That should enact laws to help lower ozone but has consequences Ward believes will harm local business.
"We'll have to have air permits," Ward said. "Any new businesses that come into the area will have to have an air permit. Dry cleaners, gas stations, even tanning beds will all have to have permits, and have things installed in their equipment to keep ozone emissions down."
Ward claims our ozone pollution is mostly caused by chemicals released from pine trees, not emissions. He says parish officials spoke to leaders in Washington D.C. about keeping Caddo Parish from reaching non-attainment because of that.
"Discussed with them how we can think about trying to change the definition of ozone to help keep us out of non-attainment," Ward said. "I mean, what do we have a choice to do? Change the definition or cut down the pine trees?"
However, Ward says some in D.C. are trying to lower the federal ozone limit. Caddo Parish might not be able to avoid non-attainment.
"Currently, our ozone is set at 75 parts per million," Ward said. "We fell in at 76 parts per million. They're looking to reduce that 75 parts per million to somewhere in the 60 range, which we're at 76. So, we have a long way to go to try not to make that non-attainment."
Ward says parish officials have requested that Senator Mary Landriew's office write to the EPA concerning the parish's situation.
Ozone isn't directly emitted into the atmosphere but is caused by chemical reactions between emissions and other compounds in the air. The EPA says ozone can be harmful to lung function and is most dangerous to children. Pollution levels peak during the summer months.
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