NORTHWEST INDIANA -
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has issued an Air Quality Action Day and is forecasting high ozone levels for Friday, July 3rd in Northwest Indiana for Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties and in North Central Indiana for St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties.
Sarah Bonick, Director of External Relations says IDEM encourages everyone to help reduce ozone while remaining safe during the COVID-19 health crisis.
"Just by making changes to daily habits like walking, biking, or working from home when possible, 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 or like if you're at a bank or restaurant drive-thru, conserve energy by turning off lights or setting the air conditioner to 75 degrees or above," Bonick says.
Air Quality Action Days are in effect from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on the specified date. Anyone sensitive to changes in air quality may be affected when ozone levels are high. Bonick says Air Quality Action Days are in part caused by hot weather.
"Ground level ozone is formed when sunlight and hot weather combine with vehicle exhaust, factory emissions and gasoline vapors," Bonick says. "So ozone in the upper atmosphere block ultraviolet radiation, but ozone near the ground is a lung irritant and it can cause coughing and breathing difficulties especially for more sensitive groups like the elderly and people with asthma."
Children, the elderly and anyone with heart or lung conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.