Air quality is important to our county, region, state, and nation. Not only does air pollution affect our ability to enjoy clear blue skies, air pollution can also affect our health and economy.
Ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but it is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ozone at ground level is the main ingredient in “smog.” Under the Clean Air Act, EPA establishes primary ambient air quality standards to protect public health and secondary standards to protect public welfare that includes protecting ecosystems, plants and animals. In 2015 EPA lowered the air quality standard for ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. Air quality trends show that Mississippi has a history of meeting and continues to meet all of EPA’s ambient air quality standards.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and DeSoto County work closely together to monitor compliance with EPA standards, to implement local policies to reduce emissions, and to encourage participation by residents in individual behaviors aimed at improving air quality.
Air Quality Flag Program
Here's how the Air Quality Flag Program works: each day from the County raises a flag which corresponds to how clean or polluted the air is at that moment. The color of the flag matches EPA's Air Quality Index (AQI): green, yellow, orange, red, and purple. People can use this information to adjust physical activities to help reduce exposure to air pollution, while still keeping people active. Air Quality information is also available on this webpage and the home page.
How You Can Help
The following suggested actions can really make a difference, especially on Air Quality Action Days, to reduce ozone:
1. Slow Down, Leave Early. Drive the speed limit and avoid fast accelerations. You’ll use less fuel, produce fewer emissions and be a safer driver.
2. Take mass transit, share a ride, or carpool. Even if you do it just once or twice a week, you’ll reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and save money.
3. Have fun! Walk or ride your bike. It’s a great way to travel and it can help you and the air get into condition. Vehicles on the road create more than 25 percent of all air pollution nationwide.
4. Mow your lawn after 6:00 p.m. When temperatures are cooler, ozone is less likely to form. Consider using electric lawn equipment.
5. Combine trips. It’s easy! Chances are, you’re already doing it – combining your errands into one trip. It helps you get things done and it helps reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.
6. Get fuel when it’s cool. Refueling during cooler periods of the day or in the evening can prevent gas fumes from heating up and creating ozone. Also, that can help reduce the number of Air Quality Action Days.
7. Don’t top off the tank. It releases gas fumes into the air and cancels the benefits of the pump’s anti-pollution devices. So stopping short of a full tank is safer and reduces pollution. Also, regular maintenance and tune-ups, changing the oil, and checking tire inflation can improve gas mileage.
8. Telecommute. Explore the possibility with your employer to save time, money, and the air.
9. Don’t be an “American Idle.” Avoid letting your car idle. Go inside instead of using drive-thrus.
10. Spread the word. If everyone took just a few of these simple easy steps, it could make a big difference.
Daily forecasts are available to the public via the MDEQ website, MDEQ Twitter account, and also through daily emails.