For the first time this spring and summer, officials are predicting a red air quality day today. That means the air is forecast to contain unhealthy levels of ozone. The prediction carries this health advisory: "Sensitive individuals, people with respiratory disease should avoid exertion outdoors. Others should limit prolonged or vigorous outdoor exercise."
If possible, families should opt for indoor activities today, said Susannah Fuchs, with the American Lung Association, a member of the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership.
"For families with children, I suggest you be very mindful of the amount of time that your kids are outside doing any kid of strenuous exercise during peak ozone hours between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.," Fuchs said.
Ozone can cause short-term effects, such a shortness of breath, nausea, coughing and exacerbation of conditions like asthma or allergies, Fuchs explained. "Breathing ozone is like getting a sunburn on your lungs, and children's lungs are still developing and are more sensitive."
While Friday, Aug. 24, is the first day of the season to be forecast in the red for ozone, the region has seen ozone levels creep up into red levels during forecasted orange days (unhealthy for sensitive groups). A major component of smog, ozone is created when sunlight reacts with emissions from cars, gas stations and other sources, according to the partnership's website. Ozone has a chance to build up in the lower atmosphere on hot, sunny days with very little wind.
For tips on how to reduce air pollution, visit the partnership's website. To receive updates on daily air quality forecasts, visit the partnership's Facebook page, follow the partnership on Twitter (@gatewaycleanair) or sign up for email alerts on their website.From the calendar