Air Quality Alert: Why some Northeast Ohioans are having trouble breathing

NORTHEAST OHIO (WOIO) - Ohio Department of Transportation billboards notified drivers of the air quality alert today, and told motorists to avoid idling.

For people like Rick Suminski, of Elyria, who has asthma and COPD, an air quality alert day, like today, means just being able to breathe is a chore.

"Terrible. It's terrible -- unbearable. I have a nebulizer here I have to use. On a normal day, I may not use it. On a day like today, I might use it six, eight times," said Suminski.

Cleveland 19 Meteorologist Jon Loufman says today is a moderate alert day, but the numbers show we aren't far away from air quality conditions that would be bad for seniors and kids too.

What is an air quality alert day exactly?

"Particulate matter in the air and ozone -- ground level ozone -- the stuff in the stratosphere is good for you. The stuff near the ground is not. People who have respiratory problems, asthma among them, are particularly susceptible when we have air quality situation," said Loufman.

To avoid making the situation worse, avoid just sitting in your car with the engine running. That creates more ground level ozone. There are some other things you can do, too.

"It's a good day not to mow the lawn, not to fill the gas tank if you can possibly get away with that because that could create ground level ozone, the O-3's that are bad for people who have those respiratory problems," added Loufman.

For Rick, the most he will be able to do today is sit on the couch with the fan blowing on him.

"I was talking to my wife about maybe going fishing - nah - with the heat - I can't deal with it," said Suminski.

Click here to check the air quality.

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