Omaha air not as clean as you might think

Posted at 9:19 AM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 10:22:29-04

The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area is on the cusp of receiving an EPA designation that has long-term consequences on the region’s ability to grow and prosper.

The Omaha metro has an average ozone level of 67 parts per billion — very close to the recently-tightened 70 ppb limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. If the region exceeds this limit, it will go into “non-attainment”, an extremely punitive EPA designation that has long-term consequences on a region’s ability to grow and prosper.

Ozone is a compound that occurs naturally in Earth’s atmosphere but is also formed by human activities.  In the stratosphere, ozone prevents harmful solar ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface.  That’s the “good” ozone.

Near the surface, however, ozone is pollution that’s harmful to people, pets and plants. More than half of ground-level ozone comes from common daily activities, especially driving. This “bad” ozone has significant human health implications including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Renewable fuels such as American Ethanol reduce ground-level ozone levels and reduce the amount of particulate matter in vehicle emissions, which is especially harmful to humans. 



What’s in our fuel is killing us:

•     Benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX) are added to gasoline to boost octane

•     These are known or suspected carcinogens

•     What doesn’t burn in your engine leaves the exhaust as fine and ultrafine particles

•     These particles enter our lungs and bloodstream

•     BTX has been linked to asthma, lung and brain cancer, and heart disease

•     Toxic particles are especially harmful to infants, young children, the elderly and people with respiratory or cardiopulmonary disease

American Ethanol reduces the dangers of vehicle emissions:

•     It’s a clean, renewable and non-toxic source of octane

•     Adds oxygen to the fuel, which helps fuel burn more completely

•     Fewer toxic tailpipe emissions and reduced greenhouse gas emissions

•     The more American Ethanol in fuel, the lower the level of toxic compounds in the fuel—and in the air we all breathe                                                

The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest strongly recommends the use of higher blends of American Ethanol as a way to improve air quality and reduce the human health threats posed by toxic vehicle emissions. 

“Every time you pull up to the pump, you make a choice.  So choosing fuel with American Ethanol is a pretty easy way to help reduce air pollution — and make the air cleaner and safer for you and your family,” said Angela Tin, ALAUM vice president for environmental health.  “American Ethanol is clearly the clean air choice.”

Everyone can choose E10 (10 percent American Ethanol) at the pump. All passenger vehicles model year 2001 or newer are approved to use E15. 

One in seven Nebraskans drives a flex fuel vehicle, which can operate on any American Ethanol blend up to E85. Check your owner’s manual to see if you’re “cool to flex fuel.”  Then visit to locate stations that carry E85.

More American Ethanol in our fuel means lower levels of toxics in our fuel and lower levels of harmful particulate matter coming out of the tailpipe.

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