Ozone Action! season begins May 1st

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Ground-level ozone is a result of hot, sunny days. Elevated levels can be a health hazard, particularly for the elderly, the young, and those suffering from respiratory ailments such as emphysema or asthma. Current standards are much tougher than in the past, making it even more important for residents to take action on Ozone Action days.

Ozone Action days are called when hot summer temperatures combine with pollution to create elevated amounts of ground-level ozone, a threat to human health and the environment. On Ozone Action Days, people are asked to take certain actions that can help reduce the creation of ozone that day and keep it at levels that meet the national air quality standard.

Take Action

Each of us has a role to play in making air cleaner. SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, asks you to spread the air quality message. There are simple actions you can take on Ozone Action days and everyday to improve our air quality. Learn what you can do.

Your effort makes a difference. Southeast Michigan's air quality is improving.

Southeast Michigan has been taking Ozone Action, a voluntary emissions reduction effort that asks people to reduce pollution, since 1994. Thanks to a regionally coordinated effort, the region’s air quality has steadily improved over the past two decades.

View the positive trends in effect for ozone, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter.

The bar is only getting higher.

National pollutant standards are continually being strengthened. Attaining and maintaining these more stringent standards pose an increasing challenge for the region.

Moving Forward

Using a collaborative stakeholder process, SEMCOG strives toward a dual goal of attaining and maintaining national standards while also promoting a strong economy in the region.

SEMCOG works closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and local industry to:

  • Use all available scientific data to understand the cause of any violation of air quality standards;
  • Identify and implement the most cost effective strategy for attaining the standard; and
  • Continue to monitor air quality to ensure standards are maintained.

More information about about air quality

Air quality information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Air quality information from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

Contact: Grant Brooks, SEMCOG Membership & External Affairs

What Do You Do On An Ozone Action Day?

  • Avoid refueling your vehicle. If you must refuel, fill up as late in the day as possible, preferably in the evening when the weather is cooler. Fumes released at the gas pump contribute to ozone formation.
  • Delay mowing your lawn. Emissions from your lawn mower help form ozone.
  • If you plan to barbecue, avoid using lighter fluid. Emissions from the fluid contribute to ozone formation.
  • Take the bus, carpool, telecommute, bike, or walk. You'll reduce traffic congestion and air pollution as well as save money.

For more information, contact:

Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) – Phone: (313) 933-1300
Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) – Phone: (866) 962-5515
"The Ride" (Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority) – Phone: (734) 973-6500
MIRideshare – Phone: (866) 510-POOL
League of Michigan Bicyclists – Phone: (517) 334-9100

If you must drive:

  • Chain your trips. Your vehicle emits far less pollution once the engine is warmed up.
  • Use SEMCOG resources for biking, walking, transit, etc.
  • Avoid vehicle idling. If you're going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds (except in traffic) turn off the engine. When your vehicle idles, it is getting zero miles to the gallon. 
  • Avoid drive-thru facilities at fast food restaurants, banks, and other businesses. Instead, park your car and go inside. You’ll save money on gas and reduce pollution.
  • Use your newest vehicle. It most likely has better emission controls than an older model and thus emits less pollution.

Clean Air Actions Everyday

Many of the Ozone Actions listed above are good ideas to practice every day. Other routine actions can also help reduce pollution and fuel consumption.

On the road:

  • Keep your vehicle in good working order. Performing regular maintenance and oil changes, as well as keeping tires properly inflated can significantly improve gas mileage, extend your car's life. It can also reduce your car's pollution by more than half and reduce traffic congestion by preventing vehicle breakdowns.
  • Avoid congested roadways. Check MiDrive for real-time traffic.
  • Always make sure your vehicle’s gas cap is tightly closed. A loose or faulty cap can leak one gallon of gasoline into the air every two weeks.
  • Park in the shade. This will prevent evaporative emissions caused by the sun heating your gas tank while your vehicle is parked.

At home:

  • Save electricity. Adjust your air conditioner temperature a few degrees higher and turn off appliances and lights when not in use.
  • Replace old light bulbs with longer-lasting Energy Star bulbs.
  • When replacing appliances or heating & cooling systems, choose models with high energy efficiency ratings.
  • Avoid using oil-based paints, degreasers, or lighter fluids. Use water-based cleaning and painting products. Apply paint with rollers and brushes instead of sprayers to cut down on fumes.
  • Keep motor boats, jet skis and other personal watercraft well maintained, and avoid idling.

On the job:

  • Brown bag it or walk to lunch instead of driving to a restaurant.
  • Encourage your employer to buy and maintain fleets of energy-efficient cars and trucks.
  • Telecommute. If possible, work at home sometimes. You'll save time and money, and reduce emissions and traffic congestion.
  • Use teleconferencing technologies instead of driving to meetings.
  • Ask your employer to consider installing a bike rack for employees.


  • Spread the word. If everyone took just a few of these simple steps, it could make a big difference because it all adds up to cleaner air.
Developing Regional Solutions
SEMCOG is a regional planning partnership of governmental units serving 4.7 million people in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan striving to enhance the region's quality of life.