Ozone pollution can affect your health
On hot, sunny days, emissions from car engines, factories, lawn and garden equipment, gasoline evaporation and other chemicals react with heat and sunlight to form ground-level ozone. Ozone pollution can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation. This can be a particular problem for sensitive groups -- people with respiratory illnesses, the very young, the elderly -- and even for healthy people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Repeated, prolonged exposure can cause permanent lung damage.
Each afternoon, the Mid-America Regional Council issues a SkyCast to let you know what air quality to expect the next day. The daily SkyCast is available online at www.marc.org; on local news channels; and at InfoKwik KC-News.com with the link below.
SkyCast levels include:
- green, for good air quality;
- yellow for moderate air quality;
- orange for when air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups; and
- red alert when air quality is harmful.
An Ozone Alert will be issued any time the SkyCast calls for an Orange Alert or Red Alert. Ozone Alerts are publicized in local news, on the Kansas City Scout road signs, and on area buses. Sign up for e-mail alerts by e-mailing email@example.com, or ask your employer to join MARC's AirQ Workplace Initiative.
During an Orange Alert, sensitive groups should limit prolonged outdoor activity. During a Red Alert, everyone should limit prolonged outdoor activity. Unusually sensitive groups may also want to consider limiting activity during moderate or yellow ozone periods.
Last summer, there were 15 days when the region's air quality did not meet federal health-based standards. More than half of Kansas City's ground-level ozone is caused by everyday people doing everyday things. You have the power to reduce ozone pollution, especially on Ozone Alert days, by taking a few simple actions. You can
- Reduce driving by combining errands, walking, biking, carpooling, or taking the bus.
- Avoid refueling your vehicle.
- If you must buy fuel, wait until evening and avoid "topping off" the tank.
- Postpone lawn mowing to a cooler day.