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Health Alert Today: Spare the Air Smog Warning

The Bay Area's air monitoring agency says the amount of ground-level ozone expected today, Friday, will be unhealthy and urges residents to take mass transit, reduce energy use and avoid vigorous outdoor exercise, except in the early morning.

The summer season's third Spare the Air smog alert has been declared for today, Friday, by the Bay Area Air Management Quality District.

"Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow, Friday," the district said in a news release Thursday.

Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, said in a statement, “Unhealthy air quality can be avoided if we reduce our driving by taking public transit, carpooling, biking or walking to work.”

The agency also advised against outdoor vigorous execise tomorrow, except in the early morning hours when ground ozone levels are lower. Wood-burning is banned tomorrow.

Dangerous ground-level ozone increases with a rise in temperature in combination with sunlight, oxygen and volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides caused by car exhaust, gasoline vapors, industrial emissions and household chemicals, the district said.

The agency said health effects of ozone can include "throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema." Long-term exposure can reduce lung function, it said.

"High levels of ozone pollution are particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions," according to the district.

The agency urged members of the public to consider these daily measures to insure healthier air:

• Bike to work or around town

• Take public transit

• Work at home or telecommute

• Carpool and link your errands to reduce driving

• Avoid using gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers

• Reduce household energy use

• Don’t use lighter fluid on the barbecue

• Avoid using aerosol spray cleaners, paints and hairspray

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