Ozone Action season began May 1st

Ozone Action days are called when hot summer temperatures are expected to combine with pollution to create high amounts of ground-level ozone. Breathing high levels of ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly in children, the elderly, and people with asthma or other lung diseases.

On Ozone Action Days, people are asked to take certain actions that can help reduce the formation of ozone and keep it at levels that meet the national air quality standard. Check out the "What to do on an Ozone Action Day" tab below to find out the specific pollution-reducing actions you can take.

To find out when an Ozone Action Day has been called, follow us on social media or sign up for email notifications using the subject line "notification," and provide your name, phone number, and email address.

Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn iconMail icon 

Your Actions Make a Difference

Each of us has a role to play in making the air cleaner. The state and federal government are continuously monitoring pollutant emissions from industry and enacting tougher regulations to reduce these emissions. These regulatory measures are very important, but voluntary actions by individuals also play an important role in improving our air and ensuring that the region meets national clean air standards.

Driving, operating gas-powered lawn equipment, or using large amounts of electricity to operate our air conditioners and other home appliances all cause pollution, which contributes to ozone formation. While an individual's contribution may be small, more than 4.7 million people live in Southeast Michigan. The collective impact of our actions is significant.

The tabs below provide information on specific actions you can take on Ozone Action days and everyday to improve our air quality. 

Your actions are making a difference. Southeast Michigan's air quality is improving.

Since 1994, Southeast Michigan has been taking Ozone Action. Our voluntary actions, combined with significant regulatory actions to reduce industrial and motor vehicle pollution, have made a difference. The region's air quality has steadily improved over the last 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. Everyone's help is needed to meet this challenge.

What to do on an Ozone Action Day

Here are actions you can take that will make a difference:
  • Avoid refueling your vehicle. If you must refuel, fill up as late in the day as possible, when temperatures are cooler. Fumes released at the gas pump contribute to ozone formation.
  • Delay mowing your lawn until evening or the next day. Exhaust from your lawn mower and other gas-powered lawn and garden equipment help form ozone.
  • If you plan to barbecue, use an electric starter or charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid. Fumes 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 information on cleaner commuting options, see What You Can Do to Improve Your Commute

If you must drive:

  • Consolidate your trips to drive fewer miles each day.
  • Use your newest vehicle. It most likely has better emission controls than an older model and thus emits less pollution. 
  • Avoid drive-thru facilities or other situations where your vehicle idles for an extended period of time. You'll save money on gas and reduce 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 save you money by reducing 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 and 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 information.
  • 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 (latex) painting and cleaning products.
  • Keep motor boats, jet skis, and other personal watercraft well maintained. Avoid idling.

On the job:

  • Brown bag it or walk to lunch instead of driving to a restaurant.
  • Telecommute. If possible, work from home occasionally. 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.
  • Find out if your employer provides subsidized transit passes


  • 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.

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 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: OzoneAction@semcog.org

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.