The first wave of hot weather has been forecast with temperatures possibly reaching the 90’s in most Willamette Valley locations. The National Weather Service has issued an advisory for western Oregon in anticipation of hot, muggy conditions. LRAPA would like to remind residents that the heat also brings higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, or smog, which can result in health problems for some people.
“Ozone levels start to rise when temperatures climb into the 90’s.” said Sally Markos, of LRAPA. “Poor air quality causes health impacts for individuals with respiratory problems.” Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, a sore throat and tightening in the chest; reduce the lungs’ ability to function, making it difficult to breathe deeply; can aggravate asthma, triggering asthma attacks; and aggravate chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis.
Ozone is not directly emitted as a pollutant, but forms in the presence of hot temperatures, sunshine, and low wind speeds. LRAPA wants to remind people to avoid behaviors that contribute emissions that cause the formation of ozone on hot summer days. Driving less, trip chaining, and taking alternative transportation will reduce emissions from motor vehicles. Avoiding the use of gas-powered lawn equipment, not using paints and solvents, and refueling vehicles in the evening when the weather cools will also help.
“It’s important people curb these types of behaviors to keep ozone concentrations as low as possible. The result will be fewer adverse health effects on people whose heart and respiratory systems are compromised, and those with asthma,” Markos said. People who exercise outside should avoid doing so in the late afternoon, when temperatures peak and ozone levels are at their highest. Ozone levels are generally cyclic. During the cool temperatures of the night, levels drop, then begin to rise again during the heat of the day, with the highest concentrations usually after 5:00 p.m.
The public can track hourly ozone levels by logging onto the LRAPA website at www.LRAPA.org. For more tips about ways to help keep air clean, visit http://www.lrapa.org/public_education/air_action_day_ program.php/
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