Officials warn of high ozone levels
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WINSTON-SALEM - This week’s hot temperatures have had a serious effect on air quality in the Triad—which is why action days are issued to remind people to take it easy when they're outside.
Experts say that this summer's hot start could mean more action days as the summer continues. Wednesday was one of those days, as officials issued an Air Quality Action Day for the Triad on Wednesday. There are several steps to take when such an alert is issued, such as carpool when possible, avoid idling your car and wait for another day to mow your lawn. All of those things can increase the levels of ozone in the air.
Lorelei Elkins, regional coordinator for Triad Air Awareness, says that it is simply a matter of being conscious of what are the best steps to take when the mercury reaches high levels.
“And what that is, is calling people to be aware of the health impacts of those high ozone levels and also and drawing their attention to the fact that there are some behaviors they can do to help reduce the emissions that are contributing to the high air pollution days,” said Elkins.
And on days when the temperatures and ozone levels rise, the data that comes into stations like these is invaluable.
“This site right here, it's an ozone monitoring station and we monitor ozone at the ground level. We have 4 other sites like it in the county and seven other across the whole triad region,” said Patrick Reagan, Program Manager for the Monitoring and Mobile Sources Division.
The information that's collected helps them determine whether or not the air can have a negative effect on people.
“If you have asthma, any kind of breathing issues at all, COPD or emphysema,” Elkins said. “You're going to be in the sensitive group area. You might experience a scratchy throat some burning in your eyes or some tightness in your chest or have an asthma attack if you have asthma.”
And because it's only the beginning of July, officials say we can expect many more air quality action days like we've just had.
“What we've seen here typically in the triad, is that our higher ozone levels occur in late July and August,” Regean said, “Looking at that potential trend, it's difficult to say exactly but we would suspect that high ozone levels will continue to be with us for at least the next several weeks.”