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Extreme Humidity Creates Health Hazard

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 Aug 2011 12:40pm | comments
NOAA map of project Thursday heat.

The days of high heat and humidity create especially dangerous health conditions for many in Mississippi.....And the extreme conditions can even effect the air that you breathe.

The high humidity traps ozone and other airborne pollutants closer to the ground, decreasing the Mississippi's air quality.

University of Mississippi Dr. Rick DeShazo says high ozone levels can seriously threaten people's respiratory health.

"So the ozone gets trapped near the ground where you can see it, that is the hazy part. And ozone is associated with an increased incident of respiratory complaints. It makes people with asthma a lot worse. People with chronic bronchitis a lot worse. So we have a lot folks come in short of breath during this kind of weather," DeShazo said.

DeShazo also says the humidity makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate off your body, hampering your natural ability to cool yourself.

Because of the danger posed by bad air, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality takes daily measurements of ozone, particulates, sulfur, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and lead around the state.

Maya Rao with the DEQ says despite the high humidity, Mississippi has avoided a dramatic spike in ozone.

"The wind was not blowing in our direction. So DeSoto County and the coast were within the standard. Those are the counties which usually have higher ozone numbers than the rest of the state. But we did not have any (increases) in the last three days," Rao said.

Rao tries to predict when air quality conditions will take a turn for the worse so Mississippians can protect their health and industries can decrease their pollution output.

At park in Jackson, Andrew Day says he won't let the heat and humidity stop him from his daily tennis practices.

"We take a five minute break every thirty minutes or so and we go inside and cool off for about five minutes. And I drink about eight waters a day and two Gatorades. That's what I do," Day said.

For people who do have to be outside, Health experts recommend drinking extra water and staying in the shade to prevent potentially deadly health problems....because if you feel flushed or weak, you are already dehydrated.



NOAA map of project Thursday heat.



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