Southeast Michigan has first 'Ozone Action Day' of 2021

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Friday is the first Ozone Action Day of 2021 in southeast Michigan, according to officials with the state and an association of municipal governments.

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said its latest Air Quality Index is orange, meaning there are elevated levels of ozone in the air over the region. As a result, the air could cause problems for children, senior citizens and people with asthma.

Ozone is natural and man-made gas found in the Earth's upper atmosphere. And while it blocks harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, breathing it in can cause serious health problems.

Higher temperatures, southwest winds and less cloud cover than expected earlier in the week lead officials to declare Friday an Ozone Action Day, they said. Officials also said the threat for increased ozone could continue Saturday.

Temperatures Friday and Saturday in Metro Detroit are expected to reach into the upper 80s and close to 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service's Office in White Lake Township.

And even though the service forecasts a cold front will move in over the region Sunday and bring chance for showers and thunderstorms, the temperature will remain in the high 80s.

The weather is expected to roller coater at the beginning of next week, the agency said. Detroit's temperature is expected to hit a high of 78 degrees Monday, soar to 91 degrees Tuesday and then drop to the low 80s by Wednesday and fall to about 75 degrees Thursday. 

Last year, southeast Michigan had a total of nine Ozone Action Days. Three of the days were in June and the rest were in July.

"Air quality is not necessarily something we can see, but it has a huge impact on the health of Southeast MIchigan residents — especially our most vulnerable populations," Amy O'Leary, executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said in a statement. "Following a few simple suggestions is something we can all do to make a difference."

To help lessen the amount of ozone in the air, state officials and SEMCOG recommend the region's residents: 

► Delay mowing lawns until evening or the next day. Exhaust from gas-powered lawn and garden equipment helps form ozone.

► Drive less, telecommute, bike, or walk to avoid adding automotive exhaust to the air.

► Avoid refueling vehicles during daylight hours. Fumes released at the gas pump also contribute to ozone formation.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez