CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We haven't seen many of them this summer, but A Code Orange air quality alert has been issued for Thursday for the Charlotte area, which includes (in addition to Mecklenburg): Gaston, Lincoln, Iredell, Rowan, Cabarrus and Union counties.
A Code Orange air quality alert means that the air may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes: children and older adults; people who work or exercise outdoors; people with heart conditions; and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory ailments. If you fall under any of these categories, you should limit time outside and avoid moderate exertion outdoors while the air quality alert is in effect.
Sometimes on hot sunny days in the the summer months when the air is very stagnant, ground level ozone (which is the primary pollutant on poor-air days) can reach unhealthy levels. Since these conditions will be in place on Thursday (the air will be stagnant due to an upper level ridge over the region which can "trap" pollutants near the surface) the air quality alert has been issued. A burning ban is also in effect, and everyone should limit daytime driving and lawn mowing to help maintain the local air quality.
You can also help by:
- Limit driving by riding the bus, walking, bicycling or postponing trips.
- If you drive, avoid idling for long periods of time, stay within speed limits, combine errands to reduce the number of small trips, and use vehicles with higher fuel economies.
- Conserve electricity by setting thermostats at the highest comfortable temperature and turning off appliances not in use.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources says that these air quality alerts have become more infrequent over the past 10 years due to state and federal measures that have decreased emissions. Thursday will be the third day of 2015 that ozone levels have exceeded the standard. The N.C. Division of Air Quality issues the daily air forecasts for the Charlotte area, and you can find those forecasts here.