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High Ozone Levels Confirmed In Upper Green

How ozone is made
American Lung Association

An air quality monitor in western Wyoming repeatedly found ozone levels were exceeding federal health standards from January through March of this year. Since then, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has confirmed the numbers. It performed a Quality Assurance Quality Control (QAQC)to ensure monitoring equipment wasn't giving faulty reads.

This year saw the highest spikes in ozone since 2011. Keith Guille, a spokesman for DEQ, said the creation of so much ozone was likely due to low wind and heavy snowpack. He said the agency was seeing pollution stay within legal limits for years.

"It does appear that we may not be attaining that standard anymore. And so, for us, we'll be working again to address these issues and look to bring that area back into attainment," said Guille, adding that the agency is working again with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Ground-level ozone is a dangerous pollutant that can cause breathing issues, especially in sensitive populations. It's created through as a secondary pollutant after certain emissions interact with sunlight.

Guille said there are no concrete recommendations yet to improve air quality but that the issue will come up in a meeting next week.

"That's what we'll have to talk about. You know That's what we were working with the public and industry about what more can be done to reduce these emissions," he said.

The DEQ is holding a post-winter ozone season meeting in Boulder on June 26. It will present information about the season.

CORRECTION: The initial article read five monitors repeatedly exceeded federal health standards, when in fact nine of the ten exceedances were at just the Boulder monitor.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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