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“Spare the air days” happen on the hottest days of the year when a big demand is put on the power plants in part due to additional air conditioner usage. Power plants spew out fine particulate matter which when heated up by the sun can produce ozone. That combined with other pollutants and ozone can really irritate the lungs. So much so that in the interview with NPR The American Lung Association’s chief medical officer, Dr. Norman Edelman said “If you look down the airways of somebody exposed to excessive ozone, it would look like a bad sunburn of the airways.”
Dr. Edelman continues to say that children’s airways and lungs are smaller and more fragile than adults and that the irritation from ozone and particulates on spare the air days could cause an asthma attack or worse.
So why not combat spare the air days by putting solar on your home? Creating your own solar energy will reduce the particulate matter in the air from the coal plants and will reduce the chemicals spewed from the plants that can turn into ozone. “the two bad chemical actors are oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons,” Edelman says. “When they’re exposed to heat and sunlight, a chemical reaction takes place which releases ozone.”
Add to that the school districts that are steeting up “no idle” zones that parents will not let their cars idle while waiting to pick up their kids from school and we may start reducing the number of spare-the-air days. Every little bit helps!