While not everyone has enjoyed the unseasonably cool and rainy weather during the past several months, it has helped keep the Wichita metro area in compliance with new Environmental Protection Agency air quality regulations.


Thiss story first appeared in the Sept. 22 edition of the Kansan.

While not everyone has enjoyed the unseasonably cool and rainy weather during the past several months, it has helped keep the Wichita metro area in compliance with new Environmental Protection Agency air quality regulations.

A number of meetings have taken place to prepare the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Harvey County, for the ramifications of not being in compliance with the new regulations put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency that lowered the ozone standard from 85 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion

The Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area has three ozone monitors — in Park City, downtown at Wichita Health Department., and in Peck (just across the southern border in Sumner County).

While Harvey County does not have a monitoring system located within its borders, because it is a part of the Wichita metropolitan area, the state will evaluate how it contributes to air pollution. The Wichita metro area includes four counties — Harvey, Butler, Sedgwick and Sumner.

Designation of being in compliance is based on the area’s worst monitor, using the fourth highest value (the highest three values are thrown out), and using a three-year rolling average, said Newton city manager Randy Riggs.

In recent meeting in Wichita it was announced that based on the 2008 data through Sept. 1, the Wichita MSA looks to remain in compliance this year. The averages for the area from 2006 to 2008 are — Park City at 61 ppb; Wichita Health Department., 66 ppb and Peck, 72 ppb.

The weather this summer has contributed greatly to this result, said Erin McDaniel, public information officer for Newton. Calm, sunny days are the worst for ozone. Without sun, no ozone is produced. Summer 2008 has been unusually cool and rainy in the Wichita area.

If the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area remains in compliance as expected, KDHE will report that to EPA, Riggs said. However, the ozone problem still exists, and voluntary efforts should continue in full force. This process will begin again in 12 months.

In a meeting in June about the possible issue of the area not being in compliance, attendees were told there is no middle ground on the Clear Air Act — you’re either in or you’re out.

“Because we are considered part of the Wichita metro area, we and the rest of Harvey County will be included in the report of either attaining standard or nonattaining,” Riggs said.

For the next 12 months, Newton, Harvey County and the rest of the Wichita metro area don’t have to worry about government agencies imposing regulations on the area to decrease pollution.

“It was interesting to learn how much the weather affects the ozone levels,” Riggs said. “The more wind and rain we have, the less ozone we have hanging around at ground level. It’s those hot, still days that cause the levels to increase and hang in the air.”

Ozone is a gas that occurs in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground-level.

In the upper atmosphere, ozone acts as a protective layer against ultra-violet radiation. Ground-level ozone, or “bad” ozone, is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds in the presence of heat and sunlight.

Formation of ground-level ozone is dependent on weather. Ground-level ozone levels are typically the highest on hot summer days, with little or no cloud cover and very little wind, a KDHE news release stated.

Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compound emissions that help to form ground-level ozone.

Peak ozone levels typically occur during hot, stagnant summertime conditions. Large urban areas tend to have the highest ozone levels, but even rural areas can experience increased ozone levels when wind carries ozone hundreds of miles from their original sources. and using a three-year rolling average, said Newton city manager Randy Riggs.

In a recent meeting in Wichita, it was announced ,based on the 2008 data through Sept. 1, the Wichita MSA looks to remain in compliance this year. The averages for the area from 2006 to 2008 are — Park City at 61 ppb; Wichita Health Department, 66 ppb and Peck, 72 ppb.

The weather this summer has contributed greatly to this result, said Erin McDaniel, public information officer for Newton. Calm, sunny days are the worst for ozone. Without sun, no ozone is produced. Summer 2008 has been unusually cool and rainy in the Wichita area.

If the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area remains in compliance as expected, KDHE will report that to EPA, Riggs said. However, the ozone problem still exists, and voluntary efforts should continue in full force. This process will begin again in 12 months.

In a meeting in June about the possible issue of the area not being in compliance, attendees were told there is no middle ground on the Clear Air Act — you’re either in or you’re out.

“Because we are considered part of the Wichita metro area, we and the rest of Harvey County will be included in the report of either attaining standard or nonattaining,” Riggs said.

For the next 12 months, Newton, Harvey County and the rest of the Wichita metro area don’t have to worry about government agencies imposing regulations on the area to decrease pollution.

“It was interesting to learn how much the weather affects the ozone levels,” Riggs said. “The more wind and rain we have, the less ozone we have hanging around at ground level. It’s those hot, still days that cause the levels to increase and hang in the air.”

Ozone is a gas that occurs in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground-level.

In the upper atmosphere, ozone acts as a protective layer against ultra-violet radiation. Ground-level ozone, or “bad” ozone, is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds in the presence of heat and sunlight.

Formation of ground-level ozone is dependent on weather. Ground-level ozone levels typically are the highest on hot summer days, with little or no cloud cover and very little wind, a KDHE news release said.

Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compound emissions that help form ground-level ozone.

Peak ozone levels typically occur during hot, stagnant summertime conditions. Large urban areas tend to have the highest ozone levels, but even rural areas can experience increased ozone levels when wind carries ozone hundreds of miles from their original sources.