CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill., (WCIA) — Many people feel their allergies flaring up, and experts warn that’s because the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an air quality alert.
The EPA said the dry and hot conditions impact the ozone level and bring it closer to the ground.
Dr. Trent Ford, the state climatologist, said it’s not uncommon to have surface-level ozone as we see on Friday, but it is less common for that to be the primary source of the Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers rising.
It affects some people more than others.
“Air quality alerts have never really made me feel any different about being outside,” John Sharp said.
“My wife, she’s the one who tends to have more problems than I do,” John Sylvester said. “A lot of congestion and she tends to be a lot more tired than she usually is.”
Dr. Kurt Bloomstrand, the OSF Emergency Medicine Director, knows that feeling is a lot more common all because of the levels of ozone and pollen in the air.
“That’s going to affect kind of the extreme of ages. The older people and the younger people,” he said.
But also the people who already have heart and lung problems.
“They might be feeling more shortness of breath, it might be harder to breathe, might be feeling tightness in the chest from difficulty breathing,” Dr. Bloomstrand described.
The EPA has the entire state under an air quality alert.
“There’s a number of pollutants that it can be based on, but today’s pollutant that is elevated making that advisory unhealthy for sensitive groups is ozone,” Ford said.
He said ozone is always in the higher levels of the atmosphere, but now it’s lower and at the surface.
“When we breathe it in, it can be really harmful to lungs, hearts, just the pulmonary, respiratory areas,” Ford added.
Dr. Victoria Famuyide, a pulmonologist with Carle Health, wants people to stay safe.
“The first thing to do is get indoors as quickly as they can and even use your inhaler, a rescue inhaler,” she said.
But, she also knows there are things you can do at home.
“Having a nice aired environment indoors with air filters would be good,” she described. “As well as cooling temperatures.”
That’s exactly what Sylvester’s family is doing.
“We actually ended up buying an air purifier earlier this year just to help out,” he said. “It’s helped a little bit but we have to be very careful about how often we keep the windows open or anything like that.”
Doctors said the symptoms for people suffering from the pollen, the heat or ozone levels are all the same. It’s best to have a plan in place with your doctor so you can treat your symptoms yourself. But, if it’s a new feeling, be sure to make an appointment.