KERN COUNTY - We're under the season's first air alert. It started Monday as students headed back to class.
An air alert is called when we're at risk of violating the one-hour standard for ozone.
As the school year kicks off across Kern County and vehicle traffic picks up, traffic and idling increase, and so does pollution.
This is a big deal because if Kern County can stay ozone compliant, it would mean a $29 million penalty assessed by the federal government would be lifted. That would also mean more money in your pocket.
During the summer, Kern County used to see 300 hours where we went over the one-hour ozone limit.
"But in the last few years we really only saw two hours where we were over the standard,” said Jaime Holt with the Valley Air District. “So there has been a huge improvement in one-hour ozone."
Kern County is levied a $29 million dollar fine from the federal government when it fails to be ozone compliant. That fine is passed on to the consumer with $12 added onto your car registration fees.
That is why the Valley Air District wants to get the word out to parents.
"We are so close now and we have seen such a cleanup with business and industry that we need to make sure the public understands that they have a role,” said Holt. “Really it is this back to school time frame, this time of day when they are picking up their kids that they really need to think about their emissions that they are creating."
The air alert is in effect until Wednesday.