INTRODUCING THE PROBLEM
When we have adequate snow cover and stagnant, sunny conditions that last over at least a few days, our region tends to develop high ozone in the atmosphere.
Ozone is an invisible gas that, at high enough concentrations, is hazardous to human health, especially for people with respiratory diseases. Regulations related to air quality may also lead to air pollution regulations that are costly to our local oil and gas industry.
The majority of pollutant emissions that lead to high ozone come from the oil and gas industry, but things like cars, home heating, and other day-to-day activities we engage in in the Basin contribute as well.
Our team at the Vernal USU campus has a comprehensive research program to better understand this issue and to help regulators, industry and the public make better decisions to control it.
OZONE ALERT PROGRAM
Last winter we started an email program to alert industry and others when high ozone is expected so they can reduce ozone-forming emissions where possible.
Anyone is welcome to sign up for this program. All they need to do is go to aq.usu.edu, click Get Involved, and then click Ozone Alert Email Program. They can sign up on that page, and then we will send them an email whenever high ozone is forecast.
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO IMPROVE LOCAL AIR QUALITY
The biggest thing is that people who work in the oil and gas industry can make sure thief hatches and valves stay closed and sealed and that all oil and gas equipment is working properly. If it is possible to delay maintenance activities that release natural gas into the atmosphere until after an air quality episode, that will also help.
For people that don’t work in the oil and gas industry, reducing idling your car and keeping diesel soot emissions to a minimum will help. People who burn wood can make sure their fires burn efficiently. You know your fire is not burning well if smoke is coming out of your chimney.