April 26, 1999
Volume 51, No. 29
Smog season begins next week, alternative transportation stressed again
This month's pollen "shower" is a springtime precursor to summer's airborne threat: smog. Once again, Community Services will be stressing the benefits of alternative transportation and work schedules during the summer months. But last summer's "Hazy Days" program has evolved into this year's "Smog Alert Days," which stretch from May 1 to Sept. 30, when ground-level ozone is likely to reach dangerous levels.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has created "Partnership for a Smog-Free Georgia," a name change partly due to marketing--smog is a better-known and understood quantity than ozone--but also to include some of the state's other metropolitan areas that may soon be in noncompliance with current federal air quality standards, said Cheryle Crumley, director of alternative transportation.
Ozone is one of the many pollutants that make up smog, that visible layer of dirt that hangs in the air. Others include particulate matter such as dust and volatile organic compounds ("Anything that has a scent or odor emits volatile organic compounds--paint, perfume, flowers," said Crumley).
Last year, 22 summer days had ozone levels that exceeded federal air quality standards. Then, the EPD measured levels by testing whether there were more than 120 particles of ozone per billion parts of air in any one-hour period. These levels tended to peak during morning and afternoon commuter rush hours, Crumley noted. This summer the EPD's standards are higher-measuring 80 parts per billion over an eight-hour period. Extrapolating last year's statistics to the new standards, there would have been three times as many days--66--with noncompliant ozone levels.
"Last year the emphasis was on episodic events," said Crumley. "The change in measuring standards is making this a seasonal issue, and we're stressing alternative transportation for the entire season, not just a single day." But the overall goal remains the same: to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips by 20 percent during smog season.
In 1998 some departments opted to use four-day work weeks and other alternative schedules to keep employees out of their cars one day a week. Those options will still be available, depending on whether managers opt to use them, but Crumley noted that year-round incentives for van pooling, car pooling and riding MARTA during smog season are still available.
Community Services will display hanging banners at parking deck exits. Facilities Management will post season-long notifications in most buildings and smog alerts will be posted on the web at <www. emory.edu/HR/SMOG.html> and on the Today at Emory web site and listserv. In some cases departments will be notified by fax.
The department has also prepared a brochure with more information. Brochures will be distributed via interoffice mail soon. Look for lunch specials and other special offers by Campus Food Service during smog season.
For more information about the Smog-Free Georgia program call Community Services at 404-727-1829. Supervisors should call Human Resources for guidance on flexible work schedules and telecommuting.