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IDEM forecasts unhealthy Ozone levels across Indiana

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management just issued an Air Quality Action Day to five Indiana regions after forecasting high Ozone levels there.

On June 11th and 12th, IDEM says high Ozone levels will affect 21 different counties across Indiana and could be unhealthy for sensitive groups such as people with asthma and other lung diseases, active children and some adults.

Officials recommend these people reduce prolonged periods of time outdoors in the following counties:

  • North Central Indiana: St. Joseph County, Elkhart County
  • Northwest Indiana: Lake County, Porter County, La Porte County
  • Northeast Indiana: Allen County, Huntington County
  • West Central Indiana: Vigo County
  • Central Indiana: Marion County, Bartholomew County, Boone County, Brown County, Delaware County, Hamilton County, Hancock County, Hendricks County, Johnson County, Madison County, Monroe County, Morgan County and Shelby County.

Ground-level Ozone is formed when sunlight and hot weather actually bake things like vehicle exhaust, factory emissions and gas vapors. Ozone in the upper atmosphere blocks ultraviolet radiation, but Ozone near the ground is a lung irritant that can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. IDEM encourages all Hoosiers to be proactive and help reduce ozone for those who may be sensitive.

Some things you can do during this time include:

  • Walking, biking, carpooling or using public transportation
  • Avoid using the drive-through and combine errands into one trip
  • Avoid refueling your vehicle or using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m
  • Turn off your engine when idling for more than 30 seconds
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights or setting the air conditioner to 75 degrees or above

On October 1, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) finalized the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The new rule sets more stringent standards, lowering both the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) standards from 75 ppb to 70 ppb.

On September 11th through the 13th the EPA is holding an annual National Air Quality Conference in Austin, Texas where air quality professionals from federal, state, local and tribal air pollution organizations, environmental a research organizations are encouraged to participate to learn the latest on air quality and innovative outreach programs.

If you click on SmogWatch.IN.gov, you can check the air quality index in your County and what level of seriousness it is projected to be at among other things.

There is also an iPhone app with the same information you can download by clicking here.

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