Breakdown: Why stagnant air can cause breathing issues, eye irritation

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 11:02 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 11:06 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Have you gone outside and noticed a bit of a haze in the air, mainly during the hot summer months? Well in this episode of the Breakdown, we will explain how this stagnant air could cause issues for some groups when outside.

According to Climate Central, summer heat is sticking around longer than before, but the mercury isn’t the only thing getting higher. Persistently hot weather patterns can also trap air pollutants in the lower atmosphere, which is know as stagnation.

The nearly stationary domes of hot air may hold particulates and ground-level ozone, causing health problems from respiratory distress to eye irritation.

(Climate Central)

Heat and stagnation are closely linked. Climate Central compiled data from NOAA’s Air Stagnation Index, and found since 1973, 98% of the cities analyzed showed a possible correlation between summer high temperatures and the number of stagnant days.

The data also found that stagnation is becoming more common in most of the country, including Memphis. Meaning the rise in summer temperatures will likely come together with more stagnation days, worsening health issues from the air pollutants that are trapped.

(Climate Central)

Though air quality has significantly improved since the Clean Air Act of 1970, some major cities have shown a recent uptick in the number of unhealthy days of particulates and ground-level ozone.

The Environmental Protection Agency issues Air Quality Alerts when issues could arise during the summer months.

(WMC Action News 5)

When the air alerts reach into the Orange, Red and Purple zones, people are encouraged to limit their activity outside to prevent possible issues that could arise when air quality is poor across the region.

By keeping a check on the air quality in the Mid-South, that could help you better understand when it might not be best to go out during the afternoon hours.

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