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    Poor Air Quality Accompanying Heat Wave

    By By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
    June 02, 2011, 4:35:25 AM EDT

    "At greatest risk is a subset of the population most susceptible to air pollution..."

    With the widespread heat wave in the East and South, those with respiratory ailments should exercise caution outdoors as poor air quality is expected to accompany the high temperatures.

    Elevated levels of ground pollution, including ozone and other fine particles, is expected to last through Wednesday and impact millions across the East.

    At greatest risk is a subset of the population most susceptible to air pollution, such as the elderly, young children and those with respiratory and heart ailments. Regular, healthy adults who exert themselves too much while outdoors could also find themselves impacted.

    Another air quality action day has been declared today across several metropolitan areas throughout the heat wave zone by local and state departments of environmental protection. Additional declarations are likely Wednesday.

    The major metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, Pittsburgh are among the locations expected to experience poor air quality.

    Many locations in between these major cities, such as the Susquehanna and Lehigh valleys of Pennsylvania, much of New Jersey and central Ohio will also experience excess ground pollution levels.


    Poor air quality often accompanies heat waves, as high pressure parked over a region creates a stagnant environment due to light winds and lack of precipitation. This stagnation prevents the atmosphere from clearing pollutants from the air, allowing them to build up near ground level.

    Those at highest risk for asthmatic attacks or other conditions should limit their time outdoors through Wednesday, while the rest of us should reduce exertion levels as much as possible while drinking plenty of fluids.

    Since most ground pollution originates from the burning of fuels of cars and at power plants, you can help make a difference to improve air quality. Use public transportation or carpool whenever possible and lower your energy demand and usage as much as possible.

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