TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation is monitoring air quality at stations in Tahlequah, Stilwell, Newkirk, Pryor and Roland, by gathering pollutant measurements and meteorological data in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. A priority is the gathering of ozone measurements.
According to the EPA, ground-level ozone can cause respiratory problems in people and damage plant life, and it is primarily brought on by industrial and automotive emissions, especially when weather is hot and sunny.
“It’s very important that people are aware of their air quality,” said Jacque Adam, a Cherokee Nation Clean Air Program environmental specialist. “What we’re doing with these analyzers is we’re collecting data. The EPA gets this data, and they are able to look at the different stats and trends. One year the ozone might be exceptionally high, and the next year it might not be as high, depending on different factors.”
Dani Keese, a Cherokee Nation Clean Air Program environmental specialist, said one of those factors is the climate, and it is already impacting area air quality this year.
“We haven’t actually even hit summer yet, and we’re having 80 degree weather,” said Keese. “We’re already seeing high ozone numbers that we do not normally see until July – August because that’s when we’re known for our higher times. Last year we had a cooler spring, so our numbers were a lot lower.”
The EPA has set ground-level ozone standards under the Clean Air Act, and programs are being instituted to reduce air pollution throughout the U.S.
The Cherokee Nation has been gathering air quality data since 1998. The EPA funds the program through grants. For more information, go to http://www.cherokee.org/OurGovernment/Commissions/EnvironmentalProtection/24355/Information.aspx#air or call (918) 453-5000.