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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

May 22, 2002

LINK TO OZONE FORECASTS FROM AROUND THE STATE
NOW POSTED ON HEALTH DEPARTMENT’S WEB SITE 

Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department is posting a link to statewide ozone forecasts on its Web site, http://www.meckhealth.org.  The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources provides the link to the Ozone Forecast Center. 

The link features ozone forecasts for the current and following days in major metro areas in the Carolinas, including Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Fayetteville and the Triangle.  The air quality index is also listed, as is the corresponding color code and a link for further details about recommended actions and possible health effects associated with compromised air quality. 

“This is very important information for people to have easy access to when planning their day, especially those with breathing problems,” says Laura McKenna, coordinator for the Mecklenburg County Asthma Coalition.  

Ozone in the stratosphere occurs naturally and protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Cars, trucks, power plants, factories and other sources emit air pollutants that chemically react with sunlight and heat to form unhealthy, ground-level ozone as a secondary pollutant. This is primarily a problem during the summer months when heat and sunlight are more intense.

Ozone is unhealthy to breathe, particularly among sensitive groups: children, people with asthma and other respiratory ailments, and anyone who works or exercises vigorously outdoors. Symptoms of ozone exposure can include coughing, throat irritation, chest pain, rapid and shallow breathing, and asthma attacks. Emergency room visits for asthma increase as much as 36 percent on high ozone days. 

There are things you can do to minimize the output of ozone-forming pollutants: 

·         keep cars and boats tuned-up

·         use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products

·         limit daytime driving

·         fuel-up after dusk and never ‘top off’ your gas tank

·         bike or walk for short trips

·         combine trips, share rides or carpool 

The Ozone Forecast is updated daily at 3:00pm EDT and can be found at http://www.meckhealth.org. Those without computers or access to the Internet may also call a toll-free phone number for updated North Carolina ozone forecasts.   That number is 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224).



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