By Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:20 PM CDT, June 27, 2012
When ozone levels go up, air quality goes down. That's causing a health alert across Kansas, especially in larger cities like Wichita.
The haze in the air is high levels of ozone. Wichita has had above normal amounts since Monday. That is causing a health concern, especially for those with respiratory problems.
"The general population may not be as affected right now, but the higher the levels go the worse it gets," said Wichita Environmental Initiatives Manager Kay Johnson.
Ozone is created when chemicals from things like your car or factories combine with high heat and sunlight.
If Wichita doesn't get the ozone levels in check, it could cost taxpayers. Falling out of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency means the City of Wichita could face a $10 million fine each year.
We can't do much about the heat, but there are things everyone can all do to help. Tips are easy to find, just check out those electronic signs around town.
"This is the first time we have used them on an ozone alert," said Tom Hein with the Kansas Department of Transportation. "We thought we would get on board and help get the word out. We are especially targeting those drivers because there are habits you can do with your vehicle to help the ozone level."
From cutting down on driving or car pooling, even filling up your gas tank at night makes a difference.
"It all adds up," Johnson said. "Every time we are over the federal standard, it is a health based standard, people's health can be affected."
Johnson hopes that threat will be enough to convince more people to change their habits, both on the road and at home.
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