July 5, 2008

Air quality alert, over high ozone levels, issued

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is issuing an Air Quality Watch for Ozone for Racine and the seven other lakeshore counties -- Door, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Sheboygan. It will take effect at midnight tonight through midnight Sunday.

The watch is being issued because of the forecast for elevated levels of ground level ozone, formed when pollution from power plants, factories and other industrial sources, vehicle exhaust, and volatile organic compounds chemically reacts with hot temperatures, high humidity and atmospheric stagnation.

The Air Quality Index is predicted to reach the orange level, which is unhealthy for people with respiratory diseases like asthma, older adults, active children and those engaged in strenuous outside activities. When an air quality watch is issued, people in those groups are advised to reschedule or cut back on strenuous outside activities during the watch period.

People with lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis should pay attention to shortness of breath, or respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing and discomfort. Ground level ozone can irritate the respiratory system, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and chronic lung diseases, and, over time, cause permanent lung damage.

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