Even the biggest fans of summer have to admit that hot weather brings some serious health issues: sunburns, mosquito bites and air pollution.
Why is air pollution worse in the summer? Blame our weather pattern. Each day, the stuff that comes out of your car’s tailpipe and the smokestacks of area plants add pollutants to our air — things like carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. And over the last few years, wild fires have also fouled our air.
Most of the year, that’s not a big problem. The pollutants drift up into the atmosphere and away from our lungs. But in the summer, large areas of high pressure typically dominate our weather. High pressure is sinking air and that keeps the pollutants trapped at the surface.Then the intense sunshine helps bake the pollutants into a nasty stew called ground level ozone.
You may not think a lot about the quality of the air you breathe, but the folks at Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality do. They monitor air quality at four different spots in Hampton Roads: NASA/Langley in Hampton, NOAA in Norfolk, Tidewater Community College and the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Center, both in Suffolk.
Each day the DEQ also issues an air quality forecast for the next day. The scale runs from good air quality to hazardous air quality. So how does this impact you?
Before you take a run, mow the lawn or take on any strenuous outdoor activity during the heat of the day it’s probably a good idea to check the current air quality.
This is especially important if you already suffer from a respiratory problem like asthma. Here’s a link: http://vadeq.tx.sutron.com/cgi-bin/aqi_map.pl?metro02_aqi.png