Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get E-Mail notifications of Ozone Alert! Days?  Easy, Just sign up HERE!

What is the area covered by the Ozone Alert Program?
I live in Owasso. Do I need to take action on Ozone Alert! Days?
How can I find someone with whom to carpool?
What would it mean if we were to go on the dirty air list?
What is the ozone standard?
How are we doing in meeting the ozone standard?
What is the difference between "exceeding" the ozone standard and "violating" the ozone standard?
What is the Ozone Alert! Program?
Is ozone a health problem?
When is Ozone Alert! Season?
Who decides that it's an Ozone Alert! Day?
What is the INCOG Air Quality Committee?
What is reduced RVP gasoline?
Does mowing with a gasoline-powered mower really hurt air quality?
Why is it important to wait until evening hours on Ozone Alert! Days to do certain things?
Doesn't industry create most of the pollutants in the Tulsa Area?
How can my actions on Ozone Alert! Days help the air pollution problem?
Why is the Ozone Alert! Program necessary?
What can the public do?



What is the area covered by the Ozone Alert! Program?
The area covered by an Ozone Alert! for Tulsa is the area that would be designated non-attainment by the EPA if the standard is violated. We consider that area to be our 'air shed'. It is, at minimum, Tulsa County and portions of Creek, Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner Counties. We also define this area as the Tulsa Transportation Management Area - the regional transportation planning area. , however EPA could expand or contract this area. The Clean Air Act defines the potential non-attainment area to be all of Tulsa County and six surrounding counties - the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area, however it also gives EPA authority to expand or contract the designated area.

I live in Owasso. Do I need to take action on Ozone Alert! Days?
Yes! Absolutely! Importantly! Owasso and the communities surrounding Tulsa are considered the Tulsa area air shed. Ozone Alert! Days are called to 'clear the air' and hopefully continue to maintain the EPA ozone standard. If we violate the standard, EPA would place us on the 'dirty air list', officially termed in non-attainment. Should any one of the five air shed monitors violate the EPA ozone standard, the area designated non-attainment would be at minimum all the metro area and communities including Tulsa county and surrounding portions of Creek, Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner Counties (Owasso and many more communities surrounding Tulsa). The Clean Air Act, by default language, gives EPA authority to designate non-attainment the full Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area --which is ALL 7 counties including and surrounding Tulsa county.

How can I find someone with whom to carpool?
Visit the Transportation Resource Center website at www.TulsaTRC.org.

What would it mean to go on the dirty air list?
A non-attainment designation would mean that a plan to reduce the emissions to an acceptable level would have to be made, submitted to EPA for approval, then implemented. It is likely that the cost of implementation and planning would be paid by the citizens of the area and the state. Exactly who would pay and how much would depend on the plan. More specifically, it would depend on the degree (or how much) of 'dirty air' we have. It is safe to say it would not be FREE to those of us who live here.

What is the ozone standard?
EPA revised the national ozone standard in March of 2008. The new revised standard is an averaged standard and is calculated by averaging data over a three year time period. This average is taken from the fourth highest (eight-hour average) at each monitor. A violation occurs when the 3-year average (of the 4th highest value) is greater than .075 ppm.

How are we doing in meeting the ozone standard?
At this time, the Tulsa area is not in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone. However, Tulsa currently remains still designated attainment. Perhaps largely due to the unusually hot dry summers of 2011 and 2012, Tulsa's design value has risen to a level above the standard. Importantly, it will only take two 'typical' summers in a row - (and the help of the Tulsa community) - to improve and again be in compliance with the standard.

What is the difference between "exceeding" the ozone standard and "violating" the ozone standard?
The EPA's national ozone standard is considered to be "exceeded" when any one monitor records an 8-hour ozone average greater than .075 ppm. This corresponds to an Air Quality Index (AQI) of higher than 100, which means unhealthy air. Exceedances may occur throughout the ozone season, however an area is not considered to have "violated" the ozone standard unless/until the 3-year average of ozone (specifically of the 4th highest readings) is greater than.075 ppm (see the Ozone Standard and the Score Card for more information).

What is the Ozone Alert! Program?
Ozone Alert! is a voluntary emissions reduction initiative that asks people to do what they can to reduce pollution on the days it counts the most. Ozone Alert! tips keep tons of ozone-forming pollutants out of the air we breathe and helps to keep air cleaner. People in the Tulsa area have been taking action on Ozone Alert! Days since 1991.

Is Ozone a health problem?
It depends on where it is. At ground level, indeed it is. Excess ozone is a human health threat, causing lung problems and eye irritation. Everybody is vulnerable to ozone's effects, but children, the elderly, people with respiratory conditions, and those who work, exercise, or play strenuously outdoors are particularly at risk. In the stratosphere, however, the ozone layer acts as a shield, protecting us from harmful ultraviolet rays. The Ozone Alert! program addresses the importance of preventing the formation of ground-level ozone and protecting public health. One way to think of ozone is that is is "Good Up High but Bad Nearby".

When is Ozone Alert! season?
Ozone Alert! season for the Tulsa area runs May through September.

Who decides that it's an Ozone Alert! Day?
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality forecast Ozone Alert! Days according to a number of factors that include temperature, wind speed/direction, cloud cover, and the build-up of emissions in the air. ODEQ also considers the likelihood of ozone transport from other areas and expected emissions from regional sources.

What is the INCOG Air Quality Committee?

The INCOG Air Quality Committee is a partnership among local governments, business, industry, health and environmental organizations.

What is reduced RVP gasoline?
Fuel that has reduced RVP( which is short for Reid Vapor Pressure) evaporates more slowly and emits fewer ozone-forming pollutants in the atmosphere. It is one of many different types of reformulated gasoline blends which nonattainment areas may use in the summer months to help control ozone levels. Thanks to our refiner, supplier and retailer stakeholders, the Tulsa Area had a voluntarily provided low RVP summer gasoline program that actually began in the early 1990's. Because of technology changes in vehicle engines and other fuel formulation changes, emissions from transportation sources have vastly improved over the past decade. For the past two (2013 and 2014) summers, Tulsa's voluntarily provided program has been suspended.

Does mowing with a gasoline-powered mower really hurt air quality?
Yes! Some studies suggest that mowing with a gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour produces as much ozone-causing hydrocarbons as 10-hours of driving a late model car.

Why is it important to wait until evening hours on OZONE ALERT! days to do certain things?
When the sun sets, less solar energy is available to cause the photochemical reaction that turns emissions into ozone. More often, evening winds may increase as well, allowing emissions to somewhat dissipate over night. It is also important NOT to polluting activities (like mowing the lawn or filling the car tank) in the early morning dawn hours on Ozone Alert! Days. Those pre-dawn emissions would be there as the sun rises, and would be prime for the photochemical reaction that makes ground-level ozone.

Doesn't Industry create most of the pollutants in the Tulsa Area?
Well, no. Industry is well-regulated and has greatly reduced its emissions. People, however, tend to live and pollute much more freely. Studies show that the combined activities of individuals regularly create nearly 50% of the pollutants that cause ground-level ozone. It is not unheard of for exceedances of the ozone standard to take place on Saturdays - when most industrial emissions sources are shut down or operating at reduced rates. This illustrates that the activities of individuals are part of the problem, taking action on Ozone Alert! Days makes it possible to be a part of the solution, as well.

How can my actions on Ozone Alert! Days help the air pollution problem?
Ground-level ozone is one of the toughest pollution problems to control because much of the problem is caused by weather. Still, something must be done about it and since we can't control the weather factors that contribute to ozone formation, it is important to look at other things. Ground-level ozone forms when weather conditions combine with pollutants. Many of these pollutants are caused by industry and many are caused by the daily activities of individuals. When we prevent pollution by making slight modifications to our driving, refueling and everyday activities, we can reduce ozone-forming pollution significantly.

Why is the Ozone Alert! Program necessary?
Clean air should be a continuing goal of everyone who lives and works in the Tulsa area. By taking no cost or low cost voluntary actions on certain days during the summer, individuals and businesses choose clean air.

What can the public do?
On Ozone Alert! Days, people can choose to reduce the emissions that cause ground-level ozone. Following these tips - on Ozone Alert! days or any day - means cleaner air for everyone.

Combine trips or consider car pools or public transit for commuting or - even better - enjoy the day by choosing to ride a bicycle or walk to various errands and activities. Tulsa Area Transportation Resource Center is a great place to get ideas and find a carpool, bus information, trails, and much more! www.TulsaTRC.org.

Refuel vehicles, lawn equipment, and gas cans carefully. Avoid topping off the tank and be sure to lift the hose high to avoid spilling gas when finished. There are two benefits, "clearing the air" and getting very last drop in the tank. When finished, be sure to tighten the gas cap. And, of course, choose to refuel in the evening hours when the air is cooler and ozone formation is less likely. Reduce automobile use. Avoid excessive engine idling because excessive idling emits more pollutants than restarting a warm motor. Check traffic reports and find alternate routes to work when commuting during rush-hour.

Take the lawn chair over the lawnmower. With limited emissions controls, gasoline-powered lawn and garden maintenance equipment pollutes, minute-by minute, significantly more than driving a car. Try relaxing on Ozone Alert! Days and letting the grass grow a little for a noble cause.

Stay informed. Ozone Alert! Days are announced during weather reports on both television and radio and in the Tulsa World. Finding out if today or tomorrow is an Ozone Alert! Day provides opportunities for planning activities accordingly.

Share the knowledge. Every time the Ozone Alert! message is multiplied, more people get involved "clearing the air" in the Tulsa area. Individual behavior makes a clean air difference.