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Cumberland Ozone Levels May Prompt Emission Inspections

Posted Updated

FAYETTEVILLE — Breathing clean air is not as easy as it used to be. Triangle counties already require emission inspections, and it looks like Cumberland County is next.

Hot summers and lots of cars over the last few years pushed Cumberland County to unusually high ozone levels. If the trend continues this summer, federal emissions standards could be next.

Many people may not know it, but the air around them is being monitored.

"If it's coming out above average, we should definitely do something about it, but right here, I can't see it," said golfer Everett Hawley.

The quality of air at the Hope Mills Golf Course came as a surprise to Hawley.

TheState Division of Air Qualityhas a monitoring station on the course and at a location in northern Cumberland County. Both stations show that the levels of ozone exceeded federal standards two years in a row.

"It's coming from cars and trucks driving around. Part of it may be coming from sources such as Fort Bragg. There may be large stationary sources in the area, and another thing we are looking at is how much of Fayetteville's impact is coming from nearby large metropolitan areas such as the Triangle," said Sheila Holman of the State Division of Air Quality.

TheEnvironmental Protection Agencyuses a three year average to determine whether counties are in air compliance.

If high levels of smog are recorded again this year in Cumberland County, it is likely motorists will be required to receive vehicle emissions inspections when they go for their annual safety inspection.

While opposition is forming, so is support. "I think we are all concerned about the quality of life, so if it's going to make air cleaner and we'll be healthier, then sure," said motorist Helen Jones.

Temperatures are also rising in the Triangle and so are ozone levels.

A code orange forecast was issued Monday by the state's Division of Air Quality as pollution in the Triangle was unhealthy for people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

With no rain forecast for the next few days, the agency asks motorists to car pool, limit daytime driving and fill up their cars after dusk.


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