Staying Healthy in NE Ohio Heat

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CLEVELAND-- The stifling heat Northeast Ohio is experiencing can most certainly be uncomfortable, but it is also unhealthy.

Wednesday was the area’s second air quality advisory day.

"It tends to make me lethargic. I really don't get as much done as I would do on a normal day," said David Graham as he walked along West 25th Street.

Steamy temperatures combined with pollutants, such as car exhaust, creates ozone, making it more difficult to breathe for some people.

"Ozone is formed by all of this motor vehicle exhaust rising into the car in the hot sunlight without any good wind to break it up," said Amy Wainright, with NOACA, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.

On days like this, air quality experts urge people to drive as little as possible, or avoid driving altogether; most importantly, don't let the car idle.

"Leaves the engine running the whole time, nothing but fumes going up into the atmosphere and turning into air pollution," said Wainright.

They also urge people to carpool, or take public transportation as much as they can.  Even better, use perhaps one of the cleanest modes of transportation: a bicycle.

"I ride a bicycle because cars are expensive and it's a lot of fun and good exercise, however there's a side benefit,” said bicycle courier Lee Korchak.

On days when the air quality is this bad, the elderly and very young are urged to stay inside, as well as people with heart or respiratory problems.

Outdoor exercise should be kept to a minimum. "The last couple days have been bad and I have cut down on my exercise a bit; usually I go like six to eight miles, but the last couple days, I've lowered it down between four and six. It just sucks the energy out of you," said jogger Kerry Smith.

"The air isn't the greatest right now, seems okay. Take it easy, not overexercise," said Marc Busby, visiting from Boston.

"Just got to take it easy, like he said, just stay indoors. Could be a lot better, more public transportation would be good," said Rob Murphy, also visiting from Boston.

Wainright says the air quality advisory will be in effect until at least Thursday.

Area hospitals say they have seen an increase in heat-related visits in recent days.  MetroHealth Medical Center says on Monday, there were 80 more visits than normal, although not all were related to the heat.