Widespread ozone levels are expected to be unhealthy for "sensitive groups" Sunday, leading environmental agencies in Illinois and Indiana to issue an Air Pollution Action Day.
Several northern Chicago suburbs were already experiencing unhealthy air conditions as a result of elevated ozone levels Saturday, prompting environmental officials to encourage members of certain groups to take precautions. The unhealthy air conditions were slated to continue through Sunday.
Ozone, which is often referred to as smog, develops in the atmosphere from gases that come out of vehicle tailpipes, smokestacks and other additional sources, the American Lung Association explained on its website.
People with lung diseases such as asthma, children and teens, those 65 years of age and older along with people who routinely exercise for six or more hours a day were advised to take the following steps to reduce exposure:
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- Choose less strenuous activities - like walking instead of running
- Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors
- Be active outdoors when air quality has improved
Everyone else can enjoy outdoor activities as usual, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some evidence suggests that women, those who suffer from obesity and people with low incomes may face higher risks from ozone, although more research is needed to confirm the findings, the ALA said.
During the summer months, some subsequent health problems may be felt immediately, including shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks.
Illinois' Air Pollution Action Day goes into effect at midnight Saturday and is expected to last until midnight Sunday.
Elevated ozone levels are also expected in Northwest Indiana Sunday, and as a result, the state's Department of Environmental Management extended its Air Pollution Action Day.
IDEM recommended residents take the following steps to help reduce ozone levels:
- Drive less: carpool, use public transportation, walk, bike, or work from home when possible
- Combine errands into one trip
- Avoid refueling your vehicle or using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m.
- Keep your engine tuned, and don’t let your engine idle (e.g., at a bank or restaurant drive-thru)
- Conserve energy by turning off lights and setting the thermostat to 75 degrees or above