Poor air quality in Knoxville Tuesday

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – East Tennessee saw its first Air Quality Alert Day of the season on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a code orange Air Quality Alert Day, according to the WATE 6 Storm Team. Ozone levels were expected to exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

A code orange Air Quality Alert Day means the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups, like people with lung disease, older adults and children, and people with asthma. These groups should watch out for nose, eye, throat and lung irritation and keep in mind the high ozone levels can worsen existing conditions or make someone more susceptible to illness.

High ozone levels are due to pollution emissions, stagnant conditions, increased temperatures and decreased winds. People are encouraged to try to carpool in order to drive less and refuel after 7 p.m. to reduce ozone levels.

Parents at Fountain City Lake said they were making sure their little ones weren’t running too hard, watching to see how they’re breathing, and not spending too much time outside so that their children don’t get sick.

“It’s nice to get out of the house, It’s not raining or anything. We’ve got a swimming pool, so we’re going to go swimming later,” said dad Jason Shockley.

For them, being outside isn’t problematic but the Blairs are worrying about 2-year-old Anna and watching her closely.

“Anna is on an occasional inhaler for different triggers,” said her mom Christine Blair.

Allergists say tree pollen and mold spores are moderately high, concerning for those who have asthma, allergies or lung conditions.

“Of course the heat makes a difference and the pollution makes a difference for our allergic patients. The pollen is real high. The grass pollen is exceptionally high right now,” said Dr. Ty Prince with the Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center.

Dr. Prince says with that combination most people are going to feel some kind of distance, either in their nasal passage or their lungs. But there are a few easy things we can do to avoid discomfort.

“If you’re out driving, hopefully they have air conditioning and they keep their windows and doors shut and use recycled air in the car. At home, we want you to stay inside and use recycled air in there, hopefully with air conditioning through your central system,” added Dr. Prince.

Allergists say it’s important to pay attention to the air quality and have a few masks handy just in case.

“We had the fires awhile back, when it’s something really obvious and bad we don’t go outside or we do what we’re asked to do if we need to stay inside,” added Shockley.

“It’s obviously not fun to cough as a child either so she’s pretty aware and will stop and rest when she’s realizing that she’s having a difficult time,” said Blair.

Doctors say if you plan on starting an engine to mow or weedeat, it’s best to wear a mask to block out any of the allergens blowing in the air.

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