Ozone Air Quality Alert Season Starts March 1

February 27, 2018
Individuals Encouraged to Sign Up for Alerts

March 1 marks the start of Air Quality Alert season – a time when ozone and particle pollution can reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups of individuals. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is part of a network of agencies across the country that issues daily air quality forecasts and notifies the public when these levels become a threat to public health.

“Air quality is a key driver to the quality of life in Central Ohio. MORPC is proud to provide the region with daily air quality forecasts and to issue alerts when pollution may be harmful to our health. By signing up to receive Air Quality Alerts now, Central Ohio residents can be sure they will be ready to take action to protect their health and those of their family, friends and neighbors as temperatures and pollution levels begin to rise.”
MORPC Director of Energy & Air Quality Christina O’Keeffe

Central Ohio typically experiences higher levels of pollution, such as ozone, during the warmer summer months. Ground-level ozone is a colorless, odorless gas produced when emissions from vehicles, lawn equipment and industry combine in the presence of sunlight. In addition, MORPC monitors particle pollution, which is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets that vary in size and its sources include motor vehicle exhaust, power plants, and industrial facilities. 

MORPC uses the national Air Quality Index (AQI) scale to inform the public about daily ozone and particle pollution levels in Central Ohio. The AQI scale runs from 0 to 300 — the higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern. When levels reach above 100, air quality is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes people with respiratory and heart disease, children and older adults.  MORPC issues an Air Quality Alert to the public when pollution levels reach 101 or higher.

People with asthma are more likely to suffer an increase in the number and severity of symptoms during an Air Quality Alert. Individuals active outdoors should be aware of respiratory or cardiovascular effects from unhealthy air including coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. To decrease the potential for health implications, sensitive groups are urged to limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Everyone can reduce their exposure to air pollution by saving strenuous outdoor activities for the morning or evening, when pollution levels are generally lower.

Residents can take steps to reduce emissions contributing to air pollution by considering different ways of commuting such as carpooling and taking the bus. With MORPC’s Gohio Commute, residents can explore the many commuting options available in Central Ohio.  Other simple actions to take for air quality include avoiding idling your vehicle, refueling after dark and avoiding the use of gas powered lawn equipment on Air Quality Alert days.

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