BY JOHN HOPKINS
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Heat and smog alerts were declared in the Tristate for today as the heat index reading -- a measure of temperature and humidity -- soared above 95 on Friday.
For the first time this year, an unhealthy level of ozone was recorded in the region Friday.
Ozone levels reached 124 parts per billion (ppb) at the region's Sycamore reporting site, one of the 10 monitoring sites in Greater Cincinnati, said Jennifer Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services.
Any reading higher than 124 ppb exceeds limits allowed by the federal government. Exceeding the limits more than three times in three years at any monitor is a violation and invites stricter federal limits on transportation and industry.
"At these levels (of heat and smog) the health and safety of the community require that residents be aware and responsive to risks due to prolonged exposure to heat and to undue physical exertion," said Dr. Malcolm P. Adcock, health commissioner.
Likewise, children, people with asthma and senior citizens are encouraged to stay indoors, preferably in a air-conditioned setting, during today's smog alert.
The smog alert was issued for southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Meteorologists and the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services anticipate weather conditions favorable for the formation of high levels of smog.
Dr. Adcock and Mayor Roxanne Qualls declared the heat alert for the Cincinnati community.
The heat index has been high. On Thursday, it was 96.5; Friday it was 97.8. Forecasters are expecting temperatures in the upper 80s this weekend, little wind and no rain -- a perfect mixture for high levels of smog.
In light of the heat alert, the Cincinnati Fire Division's rescue units will be equipped to treat heat-related illness, and the city's recreation centers will serve as "cool centers" for individuals and families.
To combat the smog, motorist are encouraged to combine errands to reduce the amount of travel by automobile, which accounts for production of 45 percent of the smog in the region. Residents are also asked to postpone the use of gasoline powered lawn mowers until after 6 p.m.