May is Ozone Awareness Month

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The state wants you to start paying close attention to what you do outdoors during certain times of the day.

May is Ozone Awareness Month, and leaders say Louisiana is getting too polluted and we need to clean up our act.

The Department of Environmental Quality called a news conference Monday to remind everyone that pollutants form quickly this time of year, and to start taking small steps to help everyone breathe a little easier as summertime nears.

Visit the LSU Lakes at any time of day and you'll find people running, biking or just enjoying the view.

There's a fresh breeze coming in from the lakes and it's really nice get to enjoy the environment and everything else," said Asimenye Schaefer. "You get to see the ducks, butterflies, people, creation."

And a rare sight in South Louisiana this time of year: White Pelicans catching their last bit of tolerable temps before the heat moves in.

Retired environmentalist Charles Demas says it's one of the many reasons he carries his canoe.

"It's just enjoyable to come out every day and paddle...see the different wildlife that's out here," said Demas.

But there's something else in the environment that's caught his eye and others who study the quality of life in Louisiana.  Environmental scientist Michael Vince says the state has fallen behind the national air quality standard for the pollutant ozone.

"It's formed when nitrogen oxides or those emissions from your tailpipes in our cars react in the presence of the sunlight," said Vince.

In interstates in and around Baton Rouge are packed with cars.  Vince suggests avoid driving around between two and six in the afternoon if you can and using gas-powered equipment like lawnmowers too.  

As for fueling up at the pump, Vince says it actually pays to wait.

"Fueling your car later in the day is a good idea because you get more gasoline because the gasoline is not hot, so it hasn't expanded. So you get more gas by doing that," he explained.

While you might not see the negative impacts, Demas stresses a single effort goes a long way.

"If there's 100,000 people in an area and they each do a little bit. That little bit adds up," said Demas.

Vince says if the air quality doesn't improve here, the federal government could put sanctions on businesses like refineries, chemical plants and utilities.

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