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Ozone season has begun

With warmer temperatures and sun come higher levels of ozone pollution. The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Air Quality Program recently issued the first SkyCast air quality forecast for 2013, marking the beginning of “ozone season” — the time period between April 1 and Oct. 31 when ozone pollution in the Kansas City area typically may reach levels that cause health concerns.

Ground-level ozone increases when emissions react with heat and sunlight. Ozone pollution can cause wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing even in healthy adults, and it can be especially harmful to children, seniors or people with breathing or heart problems. When ozone pollution levels are expected to be high, an Ozone Alert is issued to warn residents to take actions that protect their health and reduce pollution.

The daily SkyCast uses a color code to indicate what type of air quality is expected the next day:

  • “ Green ” SkyCast indicates healthy air, when low concentrations of ozone pollution are expected.
  • “ Yellow ” SkyCast indicates moderate concentrations of ozone pollution with some increased health risk.
  • “ Orange ” and “ Red ” SkyCasts indicate Ozone Alert days with unhealthy concentrations of ozone pollution.

Despite the cold and rainy start to this ozone season, typical summer conditions in Greater Kansas City can result in many Ozone Alerts. Last year, the hot, dry summer we experienced in the region resulted in 23 Ozone Alerts.

To find out the SkyCast each day, visit MARC’s website at www.marc.org/airQ ; call the air quality information line at 913-383-7557; follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/airQKC ; or sign up for email alerts at http://greaterkc.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm . The SkyCast is also available from many local media outlets.

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