The TriState started using smog alerts in 1995 to warn people about high pollution days. But, those smog alerts are no more. As of April 1, the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency will issue air quality advisories. Spokesperson Megan Hummel says times have changed.
“The dark plume, and the smoke coming out of the smokestacks, you don’t really see that anymore. And the reason for that is because all the restrictions on industry. Industry is running much cleaner than they ever have before,” she says.
“We’ve really done a lot to clean up industry and business. Everyone is running much cleaner, but those national standards are still getting more strict,” she says.
Another thing that necessitated the change, Hummel says, was that most people were just too used to the term. Hummel says the agency hopes the change will breathe new life into local awareness of air quality.
Hummel says when an advisory is issued, people who have asthma, bronchitis, or other respiratory difficulties can take steps to protect themselves. She says those who don’t have breathing problems need to do what they can to reduce emissions, like driving less and conserving electricity.
She says the terminology change is also needed because of proposed changes to EPA air quality standards that could mean more alerts all year round.
“This is really an opportunity to create that awareness. We want people to be prepared that there is the possibility of having an advisory in the winter time. And it won’t look smoggy outside. In fact, it will most likely be a beautiful blue sky day,” she says.
If approved, the new EPA standards could go into effect in October.