Air quality officials have issued a health notice for air pollution in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte metropolitan area today.
Forecasters expect Code Orange conditions. That means the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as: children and older adults; people who work or exercise outdoors; people with heart conditions; and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory ailments. People who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moderate exertion outdoors.
Ozone is the greatest concern. High in the atmosphere, ozone is a good thing and helps shield us from damaging ultraviolet rays. But ozone in the lower atmosphere is a dangerous pollutant. This is because ozone is a highly reactive form of oxygen and can be unhealthy to breathe.
High ozone levels can impair breathing, irritate the lungs and aggravate symptoms in people with respiratory problems. People with chronic lung ailments, older adults and children should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity in the afternoon, when ozone levels are highest.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality issues daily air forecasts for the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount metropolitan areas.
In the Triad, air quality forecasts are issued by the Forsyth County Environmental Affairs Department. The forecasts are part of the N.C. Air Awareness Program, an effort aimed at reducing air pollution in the state’s major metro areas.
You can help reduce air pollution by taking some of the following actions:
- Limit driving by riding the bus, walking, bicycling or postponing trips.
- If you drive, avoid idling for long periods of time, stay within speed limits, combine errands to reduce the number of small trips, and use vehicles with higher fuel economies.
- Conserve electricity by setting thermostats at the highest comfortable temperature and turning off appliances not in use.
- Refrain from outdoor burning on Code Orange and Code Red days.
Officials estimate that more than half of North Carolina’s residents live in counties where ozone levels exceed the standard during warmer months. In 1999, the N.C. General Assembly passed legislation aimed at reducing ozone-forming emissions from cars and trucks, including an expansion of the motor vehicle emissions inspection program from nine to 48 counties.
In 2002, the General Assembly enacted legislation that will require the state’s coal-fired power plants to reduce their ozone- and haze-forming emissions by three-fourths during the next decade.
For more information about air quality forecasts, open burning restrictions and other air issues, visit www.ncair.org or you can call 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224). Information about air quality in the Triad region can be found at http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/EnvAffairs/.