Heat Can Hurt Air Quality

Healthy Air Healthy UsHeat Can Hurt Air Quality

As the weather heats up, some people get out more, and some should just stay in.  Higher temperatures mean higher ozone levels, which can harm the elderly, young children, and anyone with a respiratory or cardiac disease.  Two Wisconsin services notify the public when ozone can be hazardous.

UW Extension provides free e-mail and RSS alerts when high ozone levels are in the forecast.  For air quality alerts about Fond du Lac County, sign up at www.FDLHealthyAir.com.  The forecasting aspect allows residents to plan ahead.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports the daily level of air quality on its phone hotline, 1-866-324-5924 (1-866-DAILY AIR).  Reach the report for Fond du Lac County by pressing 3, then 5.  The Department’s Web site is http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/AirQuality.  People can sign up there to get alerts when ozone levels have become unhealthy for sensitive groups.

What is Ozone?

Ozone in the upper atmosphere is a good thing, protecting the earth from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.  But ground-level ozone is a harmful pollutant.  Air Advisories usually occur on hot days with lots of sun and little or no wind.  In those conditions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) heat up and form ground-level ozone.  The major sources of VOCs and NOx include:

Cars, trucks and buses

Gasoline storage, transfer and refueling

Large utility and industrial facilities

Industrial use of solvents and degreasing agents

Off-road engines such as construction equipment, aircraft, locomotives, boats, and lawn & garden equipment

In summer months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges residents to continue reducing emissions and protecting public health.

Easy Ways to Reduce Ozone

Because most of Fond du LacCounty’s ozone-forming pollutants come from everyday activities like driving a car or re-fueling a vehicle, area residents play an important role in reducing emissions.  Actions on any summer day –– and especially when there is a poor air quality forecast–– to reduce unhealthy levels of ozone include:

Don’t let your vehicle idle.

Combine errands and reduce trips.

Re-fuel your vehicle after dusk if possible.

Carpool, ride the bus, or bike to work.

Re-schedule or delay lawn mowing using gas-powered equipment until after 6 p.m.