Ground-level ozone is getting worse in Cleveland, requiring the city to develop an action plan

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ground-level ozone has gotten worse in Cleveland as evidenced by the Ohio EPA’s recent reclassification of the city’s compliance status.

The city was downgraded from marginal non-attainment to moderate non-attainment after it was determined by the Ohio EPA that the city still is not in compliance with the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, according to an announcement Thursday by the City’s Department of Public Health.

Ground-level ozone is created when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in emissions from cars and other sources, including industrial plants, react with sunlight. It can lead to a variety of health issues for people.

The city says it’s working with industries to reduce emissions and have revised some permits, and that it will continue to offer $100 rebates to residents who buy new battery-operated electric mowers to replace their gas-powered models.

Also in the works is an update to the city’s 1977 Air Pollution Control Code.

The city will be coming up with additional programs to reduce emissions, said Amy Schmidt, spokeswoman for the department. She said Cleveland’s air quality experts will develop a plan for improvement that must be submitted to the Ohio EPA by January. If attainment is not achieved by August 2024, the city could be downgraded further.

The city offers a variety of suggestions for reducing ground-level ozone, including driving less, obeying the speed limit and less idling of cars. It also recommends planting grasses and vegetation that require less mowing, using water-based solvents and those with low levels of volatile organic compounds, and painting with a brush instead of a sprayer.

Ozone levels are expected to be worse on hot sunny days but can still be a problem when it’s cold.

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