Today marks the thirteenth air quality alert for the Nashville area due to higher temperatures and dry weather conditions.
“And if you remember back to high school chemistry that the more heat you add to most reactions, the more they react.”
John Finky with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation says the heat from the sun reacts with gasoline, car exhaust, and even paint to create ground-level ozone, making it difficult to breathe.
TDEC uses a six-color-coded system called the Air Quality Index. Earlier this month, Memphis hit purple, the second highest ranking. Alerts are issued when conditions fall in the orange level at the midpoint. That’s when there are enough pollutants in the air to affect sensitive groups.
Diane Buckberg suffers from severe asthma. She says she’s ended up in the emergency room on days she wasn’t aware of an alert. Now she pays special attention and stays inside.
“All I have to do is think of being hooked up to all the monitors and on oxygen and really fighting for my life. It’s just not worth going to the store for that loaf of bread.”
Instead her family must handle all outdoor errands. As the summer’s heat cranks up, air quality can become a concern for all.
The Environmental Protection Agency and now the American Lung Association are offering smart phone apps to track air quality by zip code. The EPA’s AirNow app and the ALA’s State of the Air app are available for iPhones and Android devices.