INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) – Thursday has been declared the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's first air quality action day of the year.
All regions of the state have been placed in air quality action, according to a release issued by the department.
Air quality action days are issued when high ozone levels are predicted. Ground-level ozone is formed when sunlight and warm weather make contact with automobile exhaust, factory emissions or gas vapors.
Ozone in the upper atmosphere protects against direct ultraviolet radiation, but "ozone near the ground is a lung irritant that can cause coughing and breathing difficulties."
When ozone levels are high, people sensitive to changes in air quality may be affected. These include children, elderly people and people with heart or lung conditions. People in those categories are encouraged to reduce or avoid exertion or outdoor work.
To help reduce ground-level ozone, Hoosiers are encouraged to walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation; avoid drive-thrus and combine errands into a single trip; avoid getting gas or using gas-powered landscaping equipment until after 7 p.m.; turn off your vehicle's engine when idling for more than 30 seconds; and conserve energy by turning off lights or setting air conditioners to 75 degrees or warmer.
To learn more about ozone and how the IDEM examines weather patterns to make forecasts, you can visit www.SmogWatch.IN.gov.