July 25, 2005
Code Red: The Heat Is Back… Ozone Levels Up
Charlotte, NC - Until last week, this summer was on track to be the third consecutive summer of moderate temperatures and lower ozone levels. But with the return of the heat, Charlotte has its first CODE RED ozone forecast of the season on July 26.
Ozone monitors countywide have recorded four days in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area above the standard for ground level ozone with Monday forecast to be the fifth. After being designated as non-attainment for ozone last year, this season was looking similar to the last two summers when Charlotte recoded only four days with unhealthy air each year. However, that could change with a heat wave making conditions ideal for rising ozone levels. State ozone forecasters predicted Code Orange conditions Friday and Monday, and Code Red conditions for Tuesday, July 26 in the Charlotte area.
Ozone, a highly reactive form of oxygen, is the primary pollutant in urban smog. High ozone levels generally occur on hot sunny days with stagnant air, when pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds "cook" in the atmosphere. The Code Red forecast means unhealthy conditions for all and everyone should limit or avoid outdoor activity in the afternoon. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality issues daily air forecasts for the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount metropolitan areas. The forecasts are part of the N.C. Air Awareness Program, a voluntary effort aimed at reducing air pollution in the state's major metro areas. As part of this program, air quality officials are asking residents of Charlotte and surrounding counties to help reduce air pollution by taking some of the following actions:
• Using mass transit
• Walking or biking
• Reducing energy use at work and home
• Avoid idling your engine; don’t use drive through windows
• Delay refueling your car until after 6 p.m.
For more information on the air quality forecast visit the DAQ web site at
www.ncair.org or call 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224). For more information on ozone and air quality in Mecklenburg County, visit http//:airquality.charmeck.org.