Historic heatwave could result in reduced air quality this weekend
June 24, 2021
Historic heat forecasted for Lane County this weekend may degrade air quality. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) expects higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, or smog, around the Eugene/Springfield metro area. Air quality may reach levels of 'Moderate' and potentially 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' on the Air Quality Index.
"Lane County is fortunate we don't have the ozone concern that more densely populated portions of the Willamette Valley do," said LRAPA spokesperson Travis Knudsen. "However, when the forecast calls for this much sunshine and heat, it is possible the Eugene and Springfield area may see more ozone formation than usual."
Ozone forms in the presence of hot temperatures, sunshine, and minimal winds. Sun and heat combine with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides emitted from vehicles, industries, fuel combustion, and paints to create the hazy smog occasionally seen during the summer months.
Lane County residents can help minimize ozone levels by driving less, reducing vehicle idling, and avoid using gasoline power motors, such as leaf blowers or lawn mowers, during the hottest portions of the day. Ozone levels are generally cyclic, they fall after the sun sets and temperatures cool, then return the next day, peaking at about 5 p.m.
"Our ozone concerns will likely continue into next week as well," said Knudsen. "Our skies will stay sunny and temperatures, while cooler, will remain elevated. We'll also see an increase in vehicle traffic with daily commutes that aren't present over the weekend."
When ozone is at its highest, people with pre-existing health issues may experience coughing, chest pain, throat irritation, and reduced lung function. Those who experience adverse effects should remain indoors.
Hourly ozone levels can be tracked on LRAPA's website: https://www.lrapa.org/.