PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is predicting that air quality will reach UNHEALTHY levels during the afternoon and well into the evening on Wednesday, July 12. The alert is being issued statewide due to elevated ground level ozone concentrations. Fine particles readings are also expected to reach moderate statewide with some light fire smoke expected in the area. The highest ozone levels are expected in the southern portion of the state, with the very highest readings along the immediate coastline. Ozone is a major component of smog and is formed by the photochemical reaction of pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, industry, and other sources in the presence of elevated temperatures and sunlight.
The Rhode Island Department of Health warns that unhealthy levels of ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and aggravation of asthma and other respiratory ailments. These symptoms are worsened by exercise and heavy activity. The children, elderly and people who have underlying lung diseases, such as asthma, are at particular risk of suffering from these effects. As ozone levels increase, the number of people affected, and the severity of the health effects also increase.
To avoid experiencing these effects, limit outdoor exercise and strenuous activity and stay in an air-conditioned environment if possible, during the afternoon and evening hours when ozone levels are highest. Schedule outdoor exercise and children's outdoor activities during the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms may wish to consult their doctors.
Rhode Island residents can help reduce air pollutant emissions. Limit car travel and the use of small engines, lawn motors and charcoal lighter fuels. Travel by bus or carpool whenever possible, particularly during high ozone periods.
Air quality can change throughout the day. Use AirNow.gov or download the AirNOW application for smart phones to check the current air quality and decide if it is a good time to be active outdoors.
For detailed information, please refer to DEM's air quality forecast page.
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