Air Quality

Air quality alert issued for northwest Indiana

The alert calls for sensitive groups to take frequent breaks and to limit time outdoors Wednesday

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An air quality alert has been issued for parts of northwest Indiana this week, as elevated ozone levels are expected to grip the region on Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, the alert will impact Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties, and will take effect at midnight Wednesday and run through midnight Thursday.

People with lung diseases such as asthma, children and teens, older adults, and people who are relatively active for six hours or more per day are urged to reduce exposure by taking breaks and choosing less strenuous activities if possible.

Chicago is expected to see moderate air quality for the next several days, according to the Air Quality Index.

According to experts at Harvard, ozone production accelerates at higher temperatures, with weaker winds allowing the atmosphere to stagnate and for ozone levels to build up.

The Environmental Protection Agency describes ozone as a “highly reactive gas” that is comprised of three oxygen atoms. It can occur naturally, but also forms when there are reactions between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.

Ozone can then be experienced as a smog or a haze, which can hang over cities and cause air quality issues.

Chemical plants, gasoline pumps, and combustion engines can produce VOCs and help to increase ozone levels, especially during periods of hot weather, according to the EPA.

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