Bad News For People Who Breathe

And that would be all of us. 

If you're not feeling well during this weather it's not just the heat, it's the air.

Bright sunshine and temperatures over 90 have brewed up some really bad air quality.

Shown above is our National Weather Service "1-hour average" ozone forecast for 5:00pm today.  Red means unhealthy air and as you can see it's not confined to cities. 

Ozone is cosmopolitan because it's formed in the sky and blows with the wind.  It's created when heat and sunlight cause nitrous oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to chemically combine into O3.   NOx and VOCs come from motor vehicles, power plants, industry and chemical emissions and from those new gas well compressor stations popping up in Pennsylvania.  That's why we're urged not to drive so much and to use less electricity on Ozone Action Days.

We're also told to stay indoors.  That may work for us but it doesn't help birds, animals and plants that have nowhere else to go.  Ozone is harmful to their respiratory systems, too, and it burns sensitive plants.

So we're all limiting our activity today - a sort of Ozone Inaction Day - and waiting for the weather to change.

Bad news for everything that breathes. 

(NOAA's 1-hour ozone prediction for the Eastern Great Lakes for 5:00pm July 6, 2010 (as of noon on July 5). Click on the image and the Loop Control arrow to watch the latest animation on the NOAA website.)

p.s. GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution) is working for clean air in southwestern PA. Please join us.

7 thoughts on “Bad News For People Who Breathe

  1. We read so much about the air quality in China. How does it compare with Pittsburgh’s on ozone alert days?

  2. Yes yes I agree. Even tho I went to the pool yesterday when I returned home I did not feel really refreshed. My husband especially is confined to the house & it doesn’t help at all, days like these. I know the air is better around here but not really convinced of it some times on days like these. I was thinking about the birds yesterday and this air. So hot & they still have to eat those pigeons. And I remember the days in the nests when there were outstretched to cool off and get rid of the parasites; I suppose it is not exactly a fun time for them. Above the pool yesterday we watched a few hawks we have around here way up high enjoying the flying I guess but I was thinking “was it cooler up there”. The map does not look “kind”.

  3. China is where the U.S. was 50-100 years ago. The first federal Air Pollution Control Act in the U.S. was in 1955. The Clean Air Act of 1970 improved the federal government’s role and ultimately resulted in much better air quality in the U.S. As you can see, bad air doesn’t stop at state and international boundaries.

  4. Wow! Doesn’t look to be getting better. The updated forecast from this morning has the ozone concentration another 20 parts per billion higher than in the graphic you’ve clipped, an increase of more than 20% over the previous forecast. I used to live in South Bend, IN which is just on the edge of this map…it’s still hot there, but the air looks to be much better.

  5. As someone who has COPD, I can tell you it’s not comfortable out there. No air conditioner either. The heat I can stand, the humidity and ozone are the problems. So I’m off to the mall to “people watch” rather than to Frick to bird watch. And yes… it would be nice to soar around up there. Especially if mom or dad provided the pigeons 🙂

  6. Thanks for mentioning GASP, Kate. We’re working to pass the Clean Air Act of 2010, as City Council is calling it, requiring best available technologies to lessen emissions to be used on construction vehicles that are working on projects that have received taxpayer funding. Particulate matter, ozone, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen…Pittsburgh has its fair share of problems and GASP would love your support. Keep cool and calm these next few days.

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