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Is it safe to be outside during an ozone action day?

When high temperatures and the sun's powerful rays cause bad ozone to form on the ground level, it can be harder to breathe.

SAN ANTONIO — Marquis Daughtry hit the basketball court for a quick game with his son Tuesday morning. Even with temperatures in the high 90s, Daughtry couldn't say no to 10-year-old Jalean.

"Nobody wants to be cramped inside the house all day," Daughtry said. "As long as my kid's happy, I'm happy."

They're playing it safe by taking breaks to rest and drink water. They also don't plan on staying out all day. "Maybe an hour, 45 minutes at best," Daughtry said. "Not too long!"

Wendell Hardin is the ozone attainment program manager with the City of San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District. 

He said limiting your time outside is a good idea right now. Last week, we had four Ozone Action Day alerts.

An Ozone Action Day is declared when weather conditions are likely to combine with pollution emissions to form high levels of ozone near the ground.

Hardin said this can make breathing difficult for children and senior citizens, especially those with asthma. 

"About 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. is the time we want to keep folks inside," Hardin said. "The air quality is not very good around that time and we'd like to keep them in there so they're not putting that stress on their lungs."

Along with limiting your time outdoors, Hardin said you can take eco-friendly steps to reduce further pollution. 

"These are the days we want people to be the most vigilant," Hardin said. "If you can, use an alternative way to get to work. If you need to fill up on gas, do it after 7 p.m. If you're going to lunch, avoid the drive-thru."

With nearly 1.5 million people living in the Alamo City, Hardin said everyone's effort would go a long way.

"Our data shows us that if we keep violating our ozone standards, we have a tendency to see an additional 19 deaths a year based on respiratory issues," Hardin said. "If we see lower ozone levels, we could actually avoid up to 24 deaths a year."

If we can't keep levels down, Hardin said the federal government will get involved.

To sign up for Ozone Action Day alerts, click here.


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