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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Rare ozone warning issued for south Hillsborough

— After last week’s deluge, a forecast of warmth, sunshine and dry air sounds pretty nice.

Trouble is, these conditions have elevated levels of ozone in southern Hillsborough County, prompting the Environmental Protection Commission to issue an air pollution advisory Monday afternoon and a warning that conditions could persist Tuesday.

With a breeze out of the northwest, vehicle and industrial emissions from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties “cooked nicely together” and settled over southern Hillsborough on Monday afternoon, said Alain Watson, air monitoring section chief with the commission.

The air is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, which include those with pre-existing respiratory ailments, older people or the very young, and can affect those who work outside.

People are urged to take the advisory into consideration when planning outdoor activities. High levels of ozone can lead to shortness of breath, irritation, or difficulty breathing.

Air quality in the Tampa Bay area has generally improved, Watson said, and the last ozone advisory came in 2012. It was not uncommon to see three or four such warnings a year, he said, but there were none in 2013.

The peak hours for elated levels of ozone are 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. The situation typically clears during the night.

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