Weather conditions flipping from winter to summer – seemingly with no spring interlude – are unnerving to those of us who believe in climate change.
And even if you are among the doubters, you have to admit that ozone-alert days in late May should be cause for concern.
Unseasonably warm temperatures might be uncomfortable for some, but an Air Quality Action Day represents a serious risk to anyone with a heart or lung condition, including many children.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued the ozone alert last week for multiple regions in the state, including Allen and Huntington counties.
Ozone in the upper atmosphere blocks ultraviolet radiation, while ozone near the ground can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. Ozone forms at ground level when sunlight and heat react with exhaust, factory emissions and gasoline vapors.
IDEM encourages Hoosiers to take steps to reduce ozone levels:
• Carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation when possible.
• Refuel vehicles after dusk.
• Avoid excess idling and drive-through windows.
• Consolidate trips and avoid fast-starts.
• Postpone using gasoline-powered garden equipment or mowing the lawn until late evening, when temperatures are cooler.
• Work from home to reduce vehicle emissions if your employer provides the option.
• Use energy-efficient lighting and appliances recommended by the Energy Star Program.
• Turn off appliances and lights when not in use to reduce emissions from energy production.
• Adjust your thermostat by turning it up in the summer and down in the winter to reduce emissions from energy production.
• Recycle to reduce emissions related to producing paper, plastic, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and cardboard.
• Use “low VOC” or “zero VOC” paint and cleaning products.
• Consider a gas-fired fireplace instead of wood-burning to reduce smoke.
• Avoid burning clean wood waste such as leaves and brush. If possible, recycle yard waste by shredding or chipping it at home or use a registered collection site. Never burn trash.