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‘Code Orange’ unhealthy air is predicted in the D.C. area Friday and Saturday

The heat wave could exacerbate air pollution

Haze seen above D.C. during a 2008 heat wave
AFP/Getty Images

Regional officials are advising residents who are sensitive to air pollution, including seniors, young children, and people with respiratory or heart conditions, to avoid strenuous outdoor activity tomorrow and Saturday due to forecasts of extremely hot and humid weather amid a massive heat wave sweeping across the eastern U.S. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) says “Code Orange” unhealthy air related to ozone levels may occur.

In a release, MWCOG notes that “ground-level ozone is created when air pollutants from a variety of sources react in sunlight.” Excessive heat increases health risks from air pollution. (There are two official “air quality index” levels above and below Code Orange, respectively.)

On days when unhealthy air happens, MWCOG says, residents should take actions such as:

“Taking transit, carpooling, or working from home.

Turning off lights and electronics when not in use to use less electricity.

Refueling vehicles in the evening.”

The District has declared a heat emergency through Monday morning, with the heat index anticipated to go as high as 110 degrees or more Friday and Saturday. Certain public pools will open at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, and remain open until 9 p.m. D.C.’s cooling centers are also active, and low-barrier homeless shelters will stay open for 24 hours a day.