Public can take role in ozone-reduction effort
BY: Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Editor
Average Kansas Citians can go beyond stricter regulations for coal-fed electric power plants and the trucking industry to reduce ground-level ozone and related health risks.
Small engines, including those found in cars and lawnmowers, add to the pollution. Emissions from such devices can be controlled, Amy Algoe-Eakin said. Eakin serves as an environmental protection specialist with the Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas City, Kan.
“Everyday people can make a difference in air quality, too, whether that means carpooling or fueling up after 7, or deferring mowing the lawn until the evening,” Eakin said.
An asthma sufferer who feels the effect of bad air when trying to breathe, Jim Gargotta, 53, said he times the hour for mowing his lawn to protect the environment.
“I don’t mow my grass in the middle of the day. I don’t do that because I know that it contributes to the overall air that we’re all breathing,” Gargotta said.
Gargotta serves as treasurer for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Kansas City chapter. He said people should be aware that using gas-powered machinery thoughtfully can help protect people from debilitating respiratory attacks.
The Mid-America Regional Council, Kansas City, Mo., reported that lawnmowers, line-trimmers and other yard equipment powered by small gas engines can cause more pollution than cars. Although cars are required to have emission control systems, small gas engines typically are not. This means that after an hour, the average lawnmower emits as many volatile organic compounds found in ground-level ozone as driving a new car 340 miles.
Over half of all ozone-forming pollutants are caused by everyday actions, such as driving, painting, refueling and using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment. Approximately one-third of the regional emissions that contribute to Greater Kansas City’s ground-level ozone problem come from cars and trucks, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Topeka.
“Everybody plays a part in this problem,” department Director Ronald Hammer-schmidt said. “Fortunately, everybody can just as easily be a part of the solution.”
Good Air Habits
The public can take these ozone-reduction steps, according to information provided by Mid-America Regional Council, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:
- Allowing native plants to grow results in less mowing, air pollution, watering, fertilizer and other chemicals;
- Electric lawn equipment pollutes less than gasoline-powered equipment;
- Reel mowers scissor-cut grass blades, yield natural mulch, work well on small- to medium-size lots and provide exercise that can burn 400 to 450 calories per hour;
- Spill-proof gas cans almost eliminate spills by shutting off before fuel tanks overfill and prevent vapor leaks;
- Carpooling or riding the bus reduces pollution from burning fossil fuels;
- Well-maintained cars pollute less and run better;
- High-gas-mileage cars save money on gas and pollute less;
- Refuel after dusk, especially on days when the air quality is poor, and never top off the tank because dripping fuel adds to ozone formation;
- Much of the area’s electricity comes from coal-fed power plants, so turning off lights and adjusting thermostats help curb pollution from such plants;
- Do not use gasoline or charcoal lighter fluid when barbecuing; and
- Avoid chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds such as spray paint, paint thinners, pesticides, glue solvents and weed killers.
The Mid-America Regional Council has detailed information about Kansas City air quality at www.marc.org.