Know your ozone: Air quality alert for today - WNEM TV 5

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Know your ozone: Air quality alert for today

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Air quality action day things to do. Air quality action day things to do.
Air quality alerts for Thursday. Air quality alerts for Thursday.
(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

On a hot summer afternoon, such as today, air quality is not always the best. When air quality becomes too degraded, air quality alerts are issued.

That is the case for Thursday, where an air quality alert is in effect for Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, Shiawassee and Tuscola counties. Ozone levels this afternoon will be harmful to sensitive groups, such as those with any sort of respiratory illness or anyone physically active spending time outdoors.

Air quality is measured by something called the AQI, or air quality index. An air quality alert is issued when this value rises over 100.

Good vs Bad Ozone:

You have likely heard the word ozone before. If not about air quality, you may have heard it in reference to an ozone hole. (The reason to avoid aerosols with CFCs.)

Ozone high in the atmosphere is formed naturally, and helps to block some of the sun's harmful radiation. This is the good ozone, the same ozone that is harmed by aerosols containing CFCs. 

Bad ozone is formed near the ground when pollution is trapped near the Earth's surface on hot summer days with calm winds. This ozone is harmful to your health, and can make breathing difficult. 

How Often Do These Days Occur:

Air quality alerts are more common in and around major metropolitan areas, such as Detroit and Chicago, and less common for smaller cities. There are three major alert zones in the TV 5 viewing area, Saginaw, Flint, and Houghton Lake. Today is Saginaw's first air quality alert since June 18th of 2007. Flint has already seen two alert days this year, on June 10th and June 25th. Houghton Lake, which is not under today's alert, has never been placed under one going back as far as 1994, where the records end. 

What You Should Do:

There are steps you can take to help improve air quality and help protect yourself when an alert is issued. We have listed some below.

  • Avoid burning fossil fuels.
  • Carpool and limit driving.
  • If you do not need fuel, do fill up your car or top it off during the day. 
  • Avoid mowing your lawn during the day or using any other small engine outdoor equipment. 
  • Avoid Drive throughs/idling.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Avoid outdoor activity if you have any respiratory illnesses (asthma etc).

Every little bit helps on days like today, so don't hesitate to put these steps into practice. Stay safe and stay healthy mid-Michigan! 

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