An ozone action day has been called for Saturday because the expected hot weather with little wind could lead to increased production of the pollution in the Baton Rouge area, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The air quality index is expected to rise to unhealthy levels for people in the Baton Rouge area who are sensitive to air pollution — the affected parishes include East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, Ascension and Pointe Coupee.

DEQ officials recommend that active children and adults, the elderly and people with breathing problems avoid spending a lot of time with outdoor activities.

Ozone pollution, commonly called smog, isn’t something that is released into the air directly. Instead, it is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides from vehicles, industry and other sources, combine in the air during hot, sunny days. When there is little wind to disperse the ozone pollution, it can accumulate in an area and cause breathing or other health problems for vulnerable people.

The ozone action day alerts industries to voluntarily delay any activity that might lead to ozone formation. In addition, the state officials ask to residents in the Baton Rouge area to help out by refueling cars after 6 p.m., and delaying mowing the lawn or using other gas-powered lawn equipment until the evening.

In addition, despite being a holiday weekend when many people plan to be traveling, DEQ also suggests driving less and combining errands to reduce the amount of vehicle pollution adding to the problem.

By Sunday, the winds should start to pick up which will help keep ozone from accumulating, but sunny and warm weather will continue. The means ozone is expected to form, but at lower levels than Saturday.

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