DHEC starting to release daily ozone forecast

Starting Monday, April 1, DHEC will publish a daily ozone level report.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) explains putting together a daily forecast of ozone levels is something the organization has done for years. 

This year, however, they want people across the state to be more mindful of ozone levels as they step out for the warmer weather. 

Andrew Kingston, lead meteorologist with the Bureau of Air Quality, explains what is the ozone. 

“Ozone is a pollutant here at the ground level, but very good aloft, up in the higher parts of the atmosphere because it protects us– but not so good here at ground level, because it’s toxic to us,” Kingston said.

Ozone contributors in our state include emissions from cars, trucks, lawn equipment, and even our trees. 

Although Kingston says our state has been on a downward trend for ozone levels for the last 10 years, DHEC still wants people to know about air quality and how it impacts them. 

He broke down what the numbers from the daily ozone forecast mean.

“The air quality index and air quality forecasts come out on a number of scales. Zero to 50 is good 50 to 100 is moderate, anything above that will be considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. That’s when we issue something called a ‘code orange’. A ‘code orange’ and above are the only times that the air quality alert is issued,” Kingston explained.

The DHEC webpage with the forecast is updated daily, and users can click county by county to find their local air quality reading. 

The bottom of the web page also includes a color-coded breakdown of the air quality numbers as well.

The ozone level reports will continue to come out from now until September 30.

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