BROWARD (CBSMiami) – An air quality warning has been issued in Broward County due to high levels of ground-level ozone pollution.
The blazing sun, low humidity and gas emissions are a recipe for high ozone levels.
“We have sun and low humidity, it splits the oxygen and causes ozone,” says Broward Air Quality Specialist Ana Suarez.
Suarez said the levels on Thursday are the highest they’ve been in three days.
Ground level ozone forms when everyday pollutants at the Earth’s surface are cooked in the strong summer sunshine.
This typically happens when a large area of high pressure sets up overhead leading to clear skies, warmer temperatures, and little to no wind.
The longer these conditions persist then the higher and higher the ground level ozone will go.
The ozone layer or ozone shield is miles above the Earth’s surface and absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet light, but at the surface this same ozone can be a harmful pollutant that can cause lung problems and aggravate respiratory issues.
The first alert often issued is the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”, which includes children, the elderly, people who suffer from respiratory problems, and people who exercise vigorously.
Some people may not notice any ill effects, but adverse effects with prolonged exposure can include sore throat, chest pain, coughing and headaches.
When this alert is in effect, it’s a good idea to avoid exertion in the middle of the afternoon when ozone levels are typically the highest.
If the weather does not improve, then conditions will worsen with each passing day. The air quality warning for sensitive groups is forecast for Friday, as well.
“It’s concerning now that I’ve heard about it,” said Natasha Alexander. “My children have allergies so I have to take heed to the information.”
Depending on where you live, the conditions may be worse. Further inland the ozone levels are higher, but at the beach they are lower.
“I’ve been outside on and off all day. But I haven’t felt anything different than any other day,” said personal trainer Roe Ragin.
Expect relief when the rainy season and high humidity return.
You can check local air quality at airnow.gov.