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How our hot and dry weather could be impacting air quality

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View of the smoke in the sky over Eva, Alabama on Sunday, November 13, 2016 (Photo: Jeff Harville)

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (The ADEM) issued a USG air quality alert for Jefferson and Shelby Counties due to a build up of ground level ozone concentrations. USG means the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. This alert can partly be attributed to our weather pattern.

That’s because the heat and sunshine can help speed up chemical reactions which can lead to ozone build up near the ground. Those chemical reactions come from sources like vehicle exhaust and aerosol particles.

Rain can help wash away particles that lead to these reactions too. So without rain we have more particles in the air that can go through chemical reactions that produce ozone.

To add on, our current weather pattern also lends to very light or calm winds. Winds help mix up the air and can help prevent particles from building up. Just like the absence of rain can lead to poor air quality, so can the absence of a breeze.

Children and the elderly are most likely to be sensitive to air quality, but if you have asthma or other respiratory problems you could be at risk too. If you fall into any of these groups limit your time outside and keep your windows closed until we see wetter/cooler weather.

Wondering when that will be? Check the forecast over on our weather page!