State health officials issued a Code Orange air-quality warning for Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Rowan counties on Friday.
Code Orange means outdoor ozone levels could be unhealthy for “children, active people, older adults and those with heart or lung disease” such as asthma, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
“Limit prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors,” state health officials advised in the alert.
Code Orange is in the middle of five rankings on the state’s Air Quality Color Guide.
The daily air-quality forecast includes two common air pollutants:
▪ Ground-level ozone, which “forms when pollutants from cars, power plants and other sources combine in hot sunlight,” according to the guide. “Ozone is a lung irritant that causes shortness of breath, irritates throats and eyes and aggravates asthma.”
Ozone levels peak “from early afternoon to early evening on hot, sunny days,” according to the guide.
▪ Particle pollution, a mix of tiny solids and liquids suspended in the air.
“These tiny particles can reach deep into the lungs, where they can aggravate asthma and other lung conditions, and even cause heart problems,” the Air Quality Color Guide says.
Surrounding counties are under the slightly better Code Yellow, which means air quality is “moderate,” according to the guide. “Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors,” the guide says.
Charlotte could reach 96 degrees under sunny skies Friday, according to the National Weather Service forecast at 5 p.m. Thursday. The high Thursday hit 94, according to the NWS.
Highs are predicted to drop to 92 Saturday, 89 Sunday and 84 Monday, the forecast showed.
Showers and thunderstorms could move into the area Monday night, dropping Tuesday’s predicted high to 79, NWS meteorologists said.
Highs are expected to rebound to 84 Wednesday and 86 Thursday, according to the NWS office in Greer, S.C.