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Heat and humidity trigger ozone alert



Published: Tue, July 23, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By KATIE-NELL SCANLON

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- High levels of ozone prompted an advisory across northern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania for the start of this week.

The National Weather Service released an advisory regarding Monday's heat index. A combination of temperature and relative humidity, the heat index rose dangerously high Monday in areas across Ohio and Pennsylvania. The high temperatures combined with abundant moisture in the air cause the heat index to rise.

Meteorologist Tom King of the National Weather Service in Cleveland said the advisory is issued whenever the heat index is expected to reach or exceed 105 degrees.

King said some areas throughout Ohio, such as Ashtabula, Akron and Canton, reached heat indexes of 107 degrees by 1 p.m. Monday. The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport recorded 89 degrees and relative humidity of 56% Monday afternoon. The heat index here measured in at 95 degrees through the early afternoon. Cloud cover and the possibility of thunderstorms in the area may put a cap on rising levels and cool down the simmering heat.

How to help

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments' Air Quality Task Force pronounced Monday an Ozone Action Day. Area residents and businesses were encouraged to do their part in reducing pollution through voluntary actions.

When the heat index rises to between 105 and 110 degrees, residents can reduce ozone pollution and its health impact by not refueling vehicles or equipment until after 7 p.m., avoiding lawn care activities involving gasoline-powered equipment, decreasing single-occupancy vehicle trips, limiting solvent usage and reducing power demand.

People should be aware of heat index and know how to reduce possible health risks during high levels.

"What we advise is for people to postpone outdoor activities or do them in the morning," King said. "Drink plenty of liquids, wear light-colored, lightweight clothing, and take breaks from the outdoors."

Today's forecast of increased cloudiness and temperatures in the upper 70s reduced the potential for formation of harmful levels of ground-level ozone.

To check out current ozone levels and receive more information about ozone, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site at www.epa.gov/airnow.

kscanlon@vindy.com




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