QC area first in Iowa to exceed new ozone pollution standard; Scott County Park records exceedance

The Iowa Quad Cities achieved the dubious distinction earlier this week as the first metro area in Iowa to exceed the new, tougher health standard for ozone pollution.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reported Tuesday (6/14) the air monitor at Scott County Park, north of Davenport, recorded an 8-hour average for ground-level ozone (O3) of 71 parts per billion (ppb) Monday, June 13. The ambient air quality standard for ozone was lowered to 70 ppb from 75 ppm last December.

Ozone is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers and other manufacturing processes. Ozone is most likely to reach unhealthy levels on hot sunny days in urban environments.

People most at risk from breathing air with ozone pollution are those with asthma, children, older adults and people active outdoors. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and airway inflammation. It also can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

The expansion of ALCOA's Riverdale operations in 2012 more than doubled its emission of VOCs, but the IDNR said at the time it didn't expect the increase would cause violations of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

CLICK HERE for more information on ground-level ozone pollution and federal ambient air quality standards.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Iowa ambient air quality monitoring network run by the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa.

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