The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 June 2006

Take a deep breath

There was a Clean Air Alert today, which, as a term, is risible: "Omigod, we have clean air! Hide the children, quick!"

Actually, I suspect the "Clean Air" tag is related to the Clean Air Act, which mandated this sort of thing. There were seven cities with Action Days today: Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Dallas, Houston, Birmingham and Memphis. Tomorrow's list eliminates the more-westerly cities and adds some to the east, as you might expect given the standard west-to-east motion of weather patterns in the Northern Hemipshere. (The list is posted here.) The three pollutants considered important enough to spring into Action are ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter; each day in each city monitored an Air Quality Index is issued, along with the most significant pollutant for that day.

This is the third such Alert this year; there was one Monday, and one in May. There were nine last year, though two of them covered more than one day. All these alerts were for ozone; for some time ozone has been the only pollutant within spitting distance of putting Oklahoma metro areas out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. (Currently we're not on the EPA's blacklist.)

There's one other weird aspect of these things: the mandated wording. It is common to run into statements like "The Air Quality Index was 46, with the air quality rated Good. The primary pollutant causing this condition was ozone." This bumps up against the brain every time I hear it, even though I know perfectly well that the EPA doesn't have any higher praise than "Good."

Posted at 7:02 PM to Soonerland , Weather or Not

This is akin to the "Cancer Carnival" at a high school where I taught. "Yeah Cancer!"

Posted by: Dan at 10:31 PM on 15 June 2006

Part of the problem with Lawton's alerts is that we get quite a bit of the pollution spillover from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Seems unfair that we get gigged for their problem...

Posted by: John Owen Butler at 11:06 PM on 15 June 2006