During the 2019 ozone season (March 1–Oct. 31), an exceptionally rainy summer helped keep ground-level ozone in check. Ground-level ozone forms when emissions from vehicles, industry and other sources react with heat and sunlight. In 2019, our region recorded the wettest ozone season since 2001, with rainfall approximately 14 inches above normal.
No Ozone Alerts were issued this year, and ozone monitors showed no exceedances of the federal health-based standard for ground-level ozone set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Once the 2019 monitor readings are validated, EPA will average them with values from 2018 and 2017 (creating a design value) to officially evaluate whether Kansas City meets the standard. Based on preliminary data, this should be the sixth consecutive year in which the region has met the ozone standard.
While cool, rainy weather certainly helps, people and businesses in the Kansas City region also contribute to cleaner air through voluntary strategies to reduce ozone-forming and greenhouse gas emissions. Our region’s participation in the EPA’s Ozone Advance program and implementation of our award-winning Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) both leverage local community actions to reduce ozone levels and pollutants.
Despite an excellent 2019 ozone season, it is important to stay on guard and continue to take steps to reduce air pollution. Ground-level ozone can make existing respiratory conditions worse and potentially cause wheezing or allergy-like symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals. Throughout each ozone season, MARC issues a daily SkyCast — an ozone pollution forecast that corresponds with the Air Quality Index (AQI). This tool associates colors and health messages with ranges of air pollution concentration: green for healthy air, yellow for moderate ozone levels, and orange and red for Ozone Alerts. In 2019, MARC issued 43 yellow SkyCasts for the Kansas City region. This is the lowest number of yellow SkyCasts since 2015.