Air quality report: Allen Co. improving

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Due to low concentrations of ambient air pollutants, Allen County received good marks from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the county’s recently-released 2018 air quality report.

In Allen County, OEPA currently tracks three different types of ambient pollutants — particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and ozone, and annual measurements of all three ended up lower than both primary and secondary volume standards set by the agency in the past year.

In fact, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide have repeatedly been measured by the OEPA at decreasing levels through the last decade. Sulfur dioxide, especially, has seen a marked decreased from .023 parts per million in 2009 down to .004 by 2018.

“As you can see, we’ve had a downward trend,” OEPA Environmental Specialist Alyse Johnson said. “We’re very pleased with those numbers.”

Johnson said the reasons for the decreases is most likely changes in industry standards as manufacturers choose “cleaner” energy alternatives and eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

Ozone, on the other hand, has been measured at growing levels in Allen County since 2015. The county’s Environmental Citizens Advisory Committee, which received 2018’s air quality report Tuesday, has already taken steps this past summer to help curb that rise in ozone by naming some of the summer’s hottest days as “ozone days.”

A practice of the Allen County Emergency Management Agency, giving the public warning about ozone days is supposed to limit the community’s use of fossil fuels — by encouraging people use vehicles and combustion engines later in the day — to curb ozone-forming conditions on hot days when they’re most prevalent.

The latest OEPA numbers put together for 2019’s ozone estimate reflect the action might have helped. Despite the seven ozone days named this summer, the county’s annual ozone measurement is expected to fall under regulatory guidelines for 2019.

“The actions that this committee is taking is working,” Johnson said. “We have seen across the state ozone going down.”

If the county failed to meet such guidelines, residents would have needed to institute emissions checks on their vehicles, ACEMA Director Tom Berger said.

“So I think the numbers are good on the ozone,” Berger said. “It’s a group effort in the county, and these industries here are a part of the community.”

As part of its yearly air quality report, the OEPA also measured industry pollutants through stack tests performed by independent companies. Of the 18 companies tested in the county, all 18 demonstrated compliance or showed no source of air contaminant.

By Josh Ellerbrock

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