The state Department of Environmental Quality has warned that the amount of ozone in the air can reach an unhealthy level in the coming days in Baton Rouge.

On Thursday and Friday, the forecast calls for ozone formation to reach a level that is unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Baton Rouge area - which includes East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, Ascension and Pointe Coupee parishes, DEQ reported.

Ozone air pollution forms when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons - from car exhaust, industrial activities and many other sources - combine in the air during hot and sunny days. When there is little wind, that ozone pollution can accumulate in the air and cause health problems.

With sunny skies and temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s, ozone formation is likely. Despite scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms dispersing some of the pollution each afternoon, the air will reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, according to DEQ.

Adding to that, smoke from fires in Mexico and the southern United States is increasing both ozone and particle pollution - tiny pieces of material that can cause lung problems, according to DEQ.

Active children and adults, the elderly and people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor activities and exertion, according to DEQ.

People living and working in these areas are also asked to limit their driving, and to mow grass and refuel cars in the evening instead of during the day. Other tips to lower pollution during ozone action days are available on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.louisiana. gov.