Hot & humid weather brings air quality concerns Wednesday

Air quality alerts are in place again Wednesday for unhealthy levels of ozone and moderate levels of fine particles

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – They often go hand in hand: hot weather and air quality concerns.  The Rhode Island DEM and the Massachusetts DEP have both issued air quality action days during this heat wave for unhealthy levels of ozone in the air we breathe.  To find out who that impacts, we reached out to the American Lung Association.

Dan Fitzgerald with the American Lung Association says, “On high ozone days like today, related to the extreme heat that we’re facing, that’s putting millions of people at risk.”

Ozone is typically highest in the afternoon and evening.  It forms when pollution and sunlight interact during hot weather.  It’s made even worse when wind carries extra pollution to our area from other parts of the country, which often happens on hot days.  Ozone can make it difficult for some people to breathe.

Fitzgerald says, “Asthma, lung cancer, COPD, people who smoke, those over 65, and young children, and even those who are living near major roads and highways are certainly at high risk.”

You can help reduce ozone during air quality action days by driving less, not mowing the lawn, and avoiding cooking on the grill.  You can also limit the effect of ozone on your own health by staying indoors, especially if you have air conditioning.  If you must go outside, air quality is usually better early in the morning.

Fitzgerald says, “It really impacts their daily life.  They’re unable to maybe go to work some days, and have to stay inside if they’re out in a trade or working primarily outside.”

The good news: as the extreme heat and humidity ease up these next few days, the risk of unhealthy air quality diminishes as well.  That is, until the next heat wave.

If you or someone you know is having trouble breathing because of the poor air quality, the American Lung Association has resources on their website that could help: https://www.lung.org/

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

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