Monitoring air quality as temperatures warm

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 8:02 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - This week, the 4Warn Weather Team started up its air quality forecasts.

Air quality monitoring season begins when temperatures start warming. Monitoring the daily air quality is essential for understanding the impact to people’s health.

Susannah Fuchs, the director of clean air for the American Lung Association in Missouri, said, “In the summer months in St. Louis, sometimes the air feels heavy. You feel like there is a lid over the metro, the air doesn’t move, it’s hard to breathe, and it looks smoggy. So that’s Ozone air pollution.”

Ozone season begins when the weather warms. This is because of the chemical reaction between sunlight, warm temperatures and pollutants. These pollutants are typically from the emissions of factories and vehicles.

Kim Cella, the executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit, said, “We know that auto emissions play a drastic role in what the air quality is on a given day.”

Air quality, while most impactful for those with asthma or lung issues, can be felt by everyone.

Fuchs said, “Ozone is a lung irritant.”

On an orange or red air quality day, people are asked to switch up their commute by carpooling or taking public transport. This will limit the emissions in the air, reducing the dangers for everyone.

Cella said, “we’re asking people to take action.”

It is important to note that there are two types of ozone. The first is ozone in the stratosphere, in an area known as the ozone layer. This layer protects us from the sun’s UV rays.

Surface ozone is different. It forms on the ground due to pollutants, sunlight and warm temperatures.

Fuchs said, “Ozone pollution affects everybody.”

In addition to driving less to reduce emissions, switch up when you do yard work. Avoid using gas-powered lawn care equipment on days when air quality is poor. Additionally, avoid filling up your vehicle during the heat of the day.

Find more information on the American Lung Association in Missouri’s website and AirNow.