published Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Bad air day expected in Chattanooga

Traffic moves down Interstate 24 as haze covers the Chattanooga area in this file photo. Air pollution control officials say that the hot, dry summer contributes to unhealthy ozone conditions.
Traffic moves down Interstate 24 as haze covers the Chattanooga area in this file photo. Air pollution control officials say that the hot, dry summer contributes to unhealthy ozone conditions.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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An air pollution Code Orange Health Watch has been declared for ozone in Chattanooga today.

The air quality Index is predicted to be 101 which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. The designation means there could be adverse health effects for up to 50 percent of the population, according to Amber Boles, spokeswoman with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau.

"Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion," Boles said in a prepared statement.

Scientists say ozone, a colorless gas, is both good and bad for the earth, depending on where it is found. High in the atmosphere, it protects the earth from the sun's harmful rays. But at ground level, it becomes the major constituent of smog.

Ground-level ozone is produced by the chemical reaction of nitrogen dioxide -- an emission of automobiles, power plants and industries -- with hydrocarbons, the vapors from incomplete fuel combustion or evaporation, according to researchers.

In the presence of hot, strong sunlight, nitrogen dioxide and the hydrocarbon vapors and fumes make ozone.

People at risk include children and adults who are active outdoors, people with asthma or other respiratory conditions and people with unusual susceptibility to air pollution.

People can help keep ozone levels lower by driving less, postponing gasoline-powered lawn care, refueling after 6 p.m. and reducing their electricity usage.

Contact staff writer Pam Sohn at 423-757-6346 or psohn@timesfreepress.com.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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