Parts of the Charlotte area under ozone alert because of heat wave, lack of rain

Charlotte’s air quality has improved markedly since 2002, when this photo was taken on a day that haze from airborne particles nearly obscured its skyline.
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Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Union counties are under a Code Orange air quality alert until 8 p.m. Monday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said.

The heat wave could create serious breathing issues for many residents.

Code Orange means ground-level ozone concentrations could approach or exceed unhealthy standards, according to the state agency. Children, active people, older adults, and those with heart or lung disease, including asthma, should limit prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

As of 2:40 p.m. Monday, the area was under a Code Yellow air quality forecast for Tuesday. That means those who are unusually sensitive to air pollutants should limit prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

The poor breathing conditions can be attributed to the lack of precipitation and wind energy across the Carolinas over the past couple weeks, according to Observer news partner WBTV.

Monday’s weather forecast for the Charlotte area calls for high temperatures in the lower 90s with north winds around 5 mph. High will remain in the 90s through the work week, according to the National Weather Service. The next chance of rain could be Friday afternoon. Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for the Memorial Day weekend, when temperatures could drop into the lower 80s.

The ozone alert comes about a month after an air quality reported determined that Mecklenburg County’s air could pose health risks, the Observer previously reported.

The annual report by the American Lung Association grades counties nationwide on both ozone and particle pollution — two of the most common air pollutants in the United States. Mecklenburg received an F grade for ozone pollution but an A for particle pollution.

Staff writer Jonathan Limehouse contributed to this report.

Ways to prevent ozone pollution

Conserve energy: drive less and use less electricity.

Carpool, use public transportation, bike or walk whenever possible.

Keep your car, boat, lawnmower and other engines tuned and maintained.

Keep tires properly inflated and wheels aligned.

Never burn your trash. This is illegal and releases toxic chemicals.

Avoid burning leaves and brush, which is sometimes legal but always pollutes the air.

N.C. Divison of Air Quality

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