Valley Air District ends Air Alert early

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The season's first Air Alert will end Monday, a day earlier than planned, thanks to improving weather conditions and air-friendly practices, such as bike riding, by the valley's residents.

Reduced auto emissions, lower temperatures and better atmospheric dispersion have contributed to improving air quality, according to the Valley Air District.

"The outstanding public response we've received to Air Alert has significantly contributed to immediate improvement in air quality," Valley Air District official Jaime Holt said in a news release.

Air Alerts are called when the valley experiences conditions such as increased emissions, high temperatures and stagnant air flow that lead to ozone formation. These periods have been correlated with back-to-school traffic.

High ozone levels put the Valley at risk for exceeding the one-hour health-based ozone standard that, in turn, triggers an annual $29 million federal penalty. The penalty is paid by valley businesses failing to use the best available emissions control technology and valley drivers via a $12 addition to their DMV registration.

During an Air Alert episode, there are steps residents and businesses can take to prevent escalating ozone levels and assist in reaching attainment and removing the penalty fee. Reducing vehicle use is an important way to reduce these emissions, as is refraining from idling when dropping off or picking up students. Folks are encouraged to carpool and avoid fast-food drive-throughs.