Air Quality and Ozone Levels

Ozone Levels and Air Quality in Augusta

Augusta is partnering with the City of Wichita and other communities in the region to increase awareness of air quality levels through the Be Air Aware program.
Be Air Aware Logo

The degradation of air quality in our region can have serious negative consequences for the health of

 residents, most notably increasing the risk of a variety of respiratory illnesses. However, poor air quality can also have serious economic consequences for a region if they are to fall into a “non-attainments designation” as regulated by the Environmental Protect Agency.

A non-attainments designation for the Wichita Metro Region would lead to loss of federal funding opportunities, more expensive gasoline, higher energy bills, and more stringent control for local industries. Visit the EPA website to learn more about non-attainments designation.  It is a major goal of the Be Air Aware program to educate residents, businesses, and organizations about what they can do to help prevent the region from facing those consequences.

What causes poor air quality?

Poor air quality is caused by the building up of ozone gas at the ground level.  The ozone layer, which is located 6-30 miles above the Earth’s surface (not existing in a single layer, despite the name, but rather in many concentrations at various altitudes), serves a vital role in protecting Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. However, ozone that exists at the ground level is harmful to the health of humans and other life on Earth.

Ozone Graphic

Ozone is formed at the ground level when two chemicals mix in the presence of sunlight, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The biggest sources of nitrogen oxides is the exhaust gases of cars and trucks and electricity generation by power plants.  Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids and liquids, including paints, cleaners and disinfectants, pesticides, varnishes, office equipment like printers and copiers, and printing presses.

How can I help improve the air quality in the region?

As an individual, you can reduce the amount of ozone you generate through small behavioral changes, such as walking more, using public transportation, reducing your amount of vehicle idling (and avoiding drive throughs), and conserving electricity and energy use at home and at work.  You can multiply your positive impact by encouraging these healthy behaviors in your friends and family.

Leaders of businesses, nonprofits, and government entities have an even bigger opportunity to reduce the amount of harmful ozone in our region. Be Air Aware is working with organizations to develop Ozone Action Plans, which are a set of actions and goals set forward by the organization to reduce its ozone generating emissions. Visit the Be Air Aware website for more information on Ozone Action Plans and contact information. The City of Augusta submitted an Ozone Action Plan in 2019 as part of the initiative.

How can I check what the air quality level is in Augusta?

High ozone levels in the air can pose a risk to all residents, but especially those who are particularly young, particularly old, or who have underlying health conditions.  The City of Augusta receives information about air quality advisories from KDHE and will pass on that information to residents via social media whenever possible.  If you want to receive Ozone Alerts directly from the Be Air Aware program, you can sign up here.

You can also monitor the current air quality level in Augusta yourself using AirNow, which will also provide suggestions for any behavioral changes, such as staying indoors if you are sensitive to pollution.

AQI Graphic