Reporter: Shannon Samson
Web Producer: Jason Bailey
A few weeks ago, Evansville Environmental Protection Agency proudly announced that it had submitted a 'petition to idem' to be redesignated as having safe ozone levels, what is called 'Attainment Status.'
Though, during Freedom Festival weekend the Evansville EPA issued an ozone alert.
Here's what's behind the disparity, and what it means for patients with respiratory problems this summer.
Stuck in the Ohio River Valley, Evansville doesn't get enough air flow to prevent pockets of ozone from forming and hanging around.
They're the same particles that form a layer in the atmosphere that protect us from the sun, but created this close to earth, they have no benefit.
Jason White, M.D. says, "In patients with asthma that have allergies, they get inflammation, pollution can also cause inflammation, so people with allergic asthma get double-whammied."
White adds,"They're getting allergic triggers as well as pollution triggers and that can make their asthma worse."
The state mandated area utility companies to decrease their nitrogen-oxide emissions by May of 2004. The result from complying with those mandates is that air is a lot cleaner, and there are fewer ozone alerts.
Dona Bergman is director of the Evansville EPA. She maintains that last summer didn't call for any ozone alerts.
"Last year, I didn't have to call one at all, [but] this year, we've got this sticky, icky air mass kind of pushing up from the south and we're going to get stuck with it."
Bergman adds, "We're going to have some high ozone."
White recommends that asthmatics and other high risk patients should keep the air conditioner running and shut their windows on days where ozone alerts are issued.
When the temperatures have decreased, the humidity will often recede as well, allowing patients to enjoy the weather without the risks that are associated with hotter times of the day.
"You're going to have more fun. You're going to have better quality of exercise, if you just make wise choices," says Dr. White.