June 11, 2002
HEALTH DEPARTMENT EMPHASIZES THAT HEALTH RISK
IS FOR EVERYONE ON OZONE ACTION DAYS
Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department reminds everyone to pay particular attention to air quality forecasts during the summer months.
Active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases like asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exposure during ozone action days, particularly during the hours of 2:00pm – 6:00pm when ozone levels are at their peak.
Laura McKenna, clinical manager at the Mecklenburg County Health Department and former coordinator of the Mecklenburg County Asthma Coalition, says it’s important for everyone - especially those with breathing problems - to know the air quality and ozone forecasts in order to plan their day.
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.
Ground-level 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.
It is important to remember that the ozone forecast is just that, a prediction of what the air quality is likely to be. There are things you can do every day to minimize your contribution to ozone-forming pollutants:
· keep cars and boats tuned-up
· don’t use gas-powered mowers or blowers
· 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 3:05pm 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).