pollution 1044258 Level Red Ozone Alert Issued For North Texas

A tailpipe is shown under a vehicle. (credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A ‘Level Red Ozone Alert’ has been declared for North Texas. Despite being in a two-month long heat wave, this is the first time an alert of this magnitude has been declared this summer.

Dr. Susan Bailey, with Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma, says the alert impacts all North Texans. “When ozone levels reach the ‘Red Alert’ phase that means that there’s a possibility that the pollution is high enough that it can affect everybody, not just people with lung disease,” she said.

People with lung disease, the elderly, and young children are the most susceptible when the air quality is poor.

“Of course for people with asthma, with chronic bronchitis and emphysema or other lung conditions, Red Alerts are definitely bad news and they should stay inside,” said Bailey.

An Ozone Alert is issued when unhealthy amounts of ozone are in the air.

Jennifer Cohen, with the North Texas Clean Air Coalition, said the Dallas/Fort Worth area has been at Orange for a while but “…once we get to Red it’s a little bit more concerning.”

The body has to work harder to do everything during ‘Level Red’ conditions.

“It’s because of what’s in the air. I man the air actually gets sicker,” said Cohen. “So, when your lungs need to filter out what is floating in the air it becomes difficult for everybody, because the air is just heavier to breathe.”

Bailey is even more concerned about air quality with the start of the weekend. “The timing of this is not great in terms of this being the beginning of the high school football season and a lot folks have plans this evening,” she said. “Ozone levels tend to be highest from about 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and then the levels tend to trickle off fairly quickly.”

Ozone alerts are issued not only as a health warning but also in hopes of getting people to reduce the amount of emissions they’re producing.

Cohen says there are some simple steps folks can take to reduce emissions. “Don’t run your lawnmower, or any other small mower, like a weed edger… until the evening hours. And [if you’re going out] combine trips.”

Motorists can also take steps to reduce emission by driving less, avoiding long idle times and refueling in the evening.

The poor ozone conditions come along with triple-digit heat. For the 60th day this year temperatures in North Texas are expected to pas the century mark.