ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – The Allen County Department of Health has declared Friday to be an Air Quality Action Day.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has forecast the levels of ozone to be high and unhealthy for sensitive groups – those with existing heart, lung, and breathing issues.

The health department said everyone should do these things to reduce ozone levels:

  • Walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation
  • Avoid using the drive-thru, and combine errands into one trip
  • Avoid refueling vehicles or using gas-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m.
  • Turn off engines when idling for more than 30 seconds
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights or setting the air conditioner to 75 degrees or higher

Everyone should limit or avoid prolonged outdoor activities while the alert is in effect. If breathing becomes difficult, go indoors and contact your health care provider.

The health department explained ground-level ozone is a lung irritant that can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. It’s formed when sunlight and hot weather bake vehicle exhaust, factory emissions and gasoline vapors.

Weather conditions used in forecasting levels of ground-level ozone include amount of sunshine, temperature, wind direction and humidity. Even at low levels, breathing ground-level ozone can trigger a variety of health problems for people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

More information is on the website for the Department of Environmental Management.