Code Orange Air Quality
Chattanooga, Tenn. (WDEF) – A Code Orange Air Quality alert was in effect today for much of the Tennessee Valley due to higher levels of air pollutants in the air we breathe.
As the Air Quality Index climbs above 100, a Code Orange Alert was in effect for Hamilton county and many other nearby counties Friday with another in the forecast for Saturday.
” The orange level is between 100 and 150. That’s based on several pollutants that are in the air – dust particles, pollen, and several things including ozone,” says Dr. John Boldt, a pulmonologist at Erlanger.
The nearly 6-inch rainfall deficit this year is contributing to the problem.
“When you don’t have much – like we haven’t had a lot of rain, with the thunderstorms – we haven’t had a lot of that to clean out the pollen then the air quality is very poor. So it’s a mixture of not having a lot of rain thunderstorms, thermal inversions, air pollution, the high heat and humidity all mixes together,” says Dr. Boldt.
High pressure has brought several days of sunny, dry weather and stagnant air to the region, trapping these air pollutants like ozone in the air at the surface – the air we breathe – leading to health problems for many people.
The Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau expects around a dozen Code Orange days a year.
Dr. Boldt continued, ” In the orange level, you’re talking about is patients that have lung disease – elderly people, people that have COPD, asthma, kids with asthma – are going to be affected and can be affected significantly with ozone even at low levels where a normal person that doesn’t have asthma won’t be affected…It can cause problems like an asthma attack, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.”
Knowing the air quality forecast and adjusting your daily activities can limit the effects of a Code Orange day on your life.
“The ozone level with the air pollution – you see it start rising about 10 am hits a peak about 2 to 3 to 4 in the afternoon. So if you’re going to do things is better to do them early in the morning before the ozone levels are rising. Afternoons? Stay indoors. For people that have to be outdoors, take breaks – come inside,” advised Dr. Boldt.
Erlanger has already seen a spike in patients with breathing problems as the summer gets underway.
“In the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of sick calls – people coming in with problems like that. So being aware of it, knowing to stay indoors limit activities if you’re out in the afternoon . All those things can help.”