[Post author: Wayne Duke]
As national Air Quality Awareness Week comes to a close, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is revving up its annual ozone awareness campaign to encourage Hoosier businesses to review the impact their daily habits play on air quality.
The new “Clean Air Indiana” initiative challenges Hoosier businesses to take a pledge that they will reduce unhealthy air emissions, improve Indiana’s air quality, reduce business costs, help employees and earn them recognition.
To help businesses become more aware of the benefits of an effective clean air program, IDEM has launched a new Web site, www.idem.IN.gov/6249.htm, and prepared a tool kit fully stocked with resources. The Clean Air Indiana pledge specifically asks businesses to take actions that will result in reduced emissions from June 15-30, the time of summer that has historically high levels of ground-level ozone.
“We’ve spent the winter creating a program that can help businesses recognize the value of being good environmental stewards,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “Businesses may find that there are cost savings to be had just by implementing a simple change in the workplace to improve their commitment to the environment. In addition to a commitment to improving the quality of life for employees, an added bonus of an environmental improvement in the workplace is the commitment to the surrounding community.”
IDEM’s Clean Air Indiana campaign is an extension of last year’s Ozone Knockout campaign, which entailed staff visits to communities to help raise awareness of the effects of activities on air quality. At the close of the 2008 ozone season, air monitors in all parts of Indiana measured ozone levels under the United States Environmental Protection Agency threshold of 85 parts per billion (ppb) for the first time since the standard was established in 1997. This is a strong indicator that air quality in Indiana is permanently improving.
In addition to the new Clean Air Indiana initiative, IDEM provides other resources related to air quality. Indiana’s Smog Watch Web site is an informational tool IDEM created to share daily air quality forecasts, including information about ground-level ozone and particulate matter air quality forecasts, health information, and monitoring data for seven regions of the state. Smog Watch can be accessed at www.smogwatch.IN.gov.
Additionally, IDEM’s LEADS Web site, at www.idem.IN.gov/airfacts, offers access to near real-time data from air monitors statewide. Approximately 65 percent of Indiana’s air monitoring network is now available via this system. The complete IDEM LEADs network will be available electronically by December 2009.
“Air quality in Indiana has improved significantly in recent years as a result of regulations and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions,” said Commissioner Easterly. “Hoosiers have worked hard to attain cleaner air, and while we’ve come a long way, we still have more work to do. Through simple actions at home and work, Hoosiers can continue to make a positive difference.”