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Third Straight Spare-the-Air Alert Today

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a smog health alert for Wednesday, the third day in a row. Residents are urged not to drive and to avoid vigorous outdoor exercise except in the early morning.

Bay Area smog levels are expected to pose health risks again tomorrow, Wednesday, , according the region's air quality monitoring agency.

"Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy for the third day in a row tomorrow, Wednesday, September 21," according to a district news release.

"This late seasonal hot spell is expected to create conditions for unhealthy air quality for the third day in a row,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the agency, said in a statement. “We’re urging everyone to make clean air choices, such as taking public transportation, reducing energy use, and refraining from using gas-powered lawn equipment, to keep pollution levels down.”

The agency advises against outdoor vigorous execise on Spare the Air days, except in the early morning hours when ground ozone levels are lower. Wood-burning is banned on such days.

Dangerous ground-level ozone increases with a rise in temperature in combination with sunlight, oxygen and volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides caused by car exhaust, gasoline vapors, industrial emissions and household chemicals, the district said.

The agency said health effects of ozone can include "throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema." Long-term exposure can reduce lung function, it said.

"High levels of ozone pollution are particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions," according to the district.

Tomorrow's alert is the seventh this year, two more than the total at this time last year, said district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius. Alerts occur mostly in the late spring and summer. Last year ended up with 10 alerts, following 14 in 2009 and 13 in 2008, she said.

The agency urged members of the public to consider these daily measures to insure healthier air:

  • Bike to work or around town
  • Take public transit
  • Work at home or telecommute
  • Carpool and link your errands to reduce driving
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers
  • Reduce household energy use
  • Don’t use lighter fluid on the barbecue
  • Avoid using aerosol spray cleaners, paints and hairspray

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