Update: What does it mean when an Ozone Health Watch is issued?

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The heat is keeping a lot of people from heading outside these days, but so should the air quality. The Valley is under another ozone health watch.

“We happen to be in the summer months in Arizona where typically the air quality becomes more poor,” said pulmonologist Dr. Rajeev Saggar with the St. Joseph’s Heart and Lung Institute.

"We do have pollution health watch today for ozone," 3TV meteorologist April Warnecke said. "It's going to be in the high upper end of the moderate category, falling off a little bit tomorrow. Coarse particles also going to stay a little high, as we have a lot of dust still in the air."

It's warnings like this one that Saggar said everyone should pay attention to. Not just those with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

“We know that during these times people who have underlying lung diseases or who are otherwise normal can actually have more frequent emergency room visits due to these symptoms, like shortness of breath, cough and throat irritation,” Saggar said.

Ground-level ozone is created when the sun heats up pollutants in the air.
“Recurrent exposure to high levels of ozone or particular matter can actually increase the chance of you developing lung injury, in other words you can have a decline in your lung function,” Saggar continued.

While staying safe means limiting your time outdoors, doctors realize that not everyone is going to be inside all day.
“If you were to do a strenuous activity, such as go running or jogging, we suggest you do it early in the daytime or nighttime,” Saggar said. “But more in particular we recommend those activities be tailored to a less strenuous version, instead of jogging, walking.”

For more information on the state's air quality forecast which includes ozone levels, visit www.azdeq.gov/environ/air.