Poor ventilation, hot temperatures and plenty of sunshine, combined with smoke from regional wildfires are causing elevated ozone and fine smoke particle levels today, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. Ozone levels may reach “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” on the Air Quality Index (AQI) again this evening. Increased winds Friday should improve air quality somewhat but will also elevate the risk of wildfires.

Elevated ozone concentrations can pose a risk to health of those with chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Those sensitive to ozone should limit heavy or prolonged outdoor activity when the AQI reaches the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range. Sensitive groups include people with lung disease such as asthma, older adults, children and teenagers, and people who are active outdoors. Current air quality conditions are reported here.

Ground-level ozone is formed when several common airborne pollutants, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react with sunlight and heat. Vehicle exhaust and petroleum evaporation loss are the key contributors to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Spokane Clean Air suggests these actions to take to help reduce ozone pollution:

  • Reduce unnecessary car trips by combining errands.
  • Drive less by carpooling, walking, biking or taking public transit
  • Avoid “topping off” your gas tank. Stop at the first “click” and be sure your gas cap is sealed tightly.
  • Refuel your vehicle during the evening hours to keep ozone-forming vapors out of the air during the heat of the day and to avoid greater loss of fuel through evaporation.
  • Use electric or manual lawn equipment when possible, or use gasoline-powered equipment late in the day or hold off until a cooler day.
  • Avoid idling a vehicle for more than 30-seconds.
  • Cap all paints, solvents and cleaners.
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