Air Quality Alert issued Thursday for Newport, Washington counties

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Due to the potential for unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone on Thursday, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued an Air Quality Alert for Newport and Washington counties.

The highest ozone readings are expected near the coast in southern portions of the state, according to the DEM.

Ozone is a major component of smog and when combined with sunlight and elevated temperatures, it can cause adverse health effects such as throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Young children and older adults are particularly susceptible, along with people with respiratory diseases like asthma.

While Thursday won’t be quite as hot as it’s been so far this week, the Pinpoint Weather Team says highs will be in the upper 80s to around 90, meaning the heat wave could be extended to a sixth day. A few brief, passing showers or thunderstorms are also possible by mid- to late afternoon.

The DEM advises Rhode Islanders to limit outdoor exercise and strenuous activity throughout the afternoon and evening, when ozone levels are highest, and stay in an air-conditioned environment if possible.

RIEMA: List of cooling centers around RI »
CDC: Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness »

Rhode Islanders can also help reduce air pollutant emissions. Here are some ways to do so from the DEM:

  • Limit driving. Avoid unnecessary car trips. Carpool, walk or ride the bus or a bicycle whenever possible.
  • Minimize starts and avoid unnecessary acceleration. Vehicle emissions are highest during starting and acceleration.
  • Reduce idling. Avoid congested traffic and lines at drive-through windows.
  • Drive your lowest emission vehicle. Use the most fuel-efficient, usually the newest, car you have whenever possible.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Get a tune-up at the beginning of each summer.
  • Minimize lawn mower emissions. Tune-up your lawn mower and use electric or handpowered equipment if possible.
  • Limit use of solvent-based household products. Use water-based or low solvent paints, varnishes, cleaners, and personal care products.
  • Limit barbecue emissions. Use an electric starter instead of lighter fluid to start charcoal fires, or use an electric, natural gas, or propane grill.
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