Tulsa Ozone Levels Make Breathing Hard Work For Some


Thursday, August 4th 2011, 4:34 pm
By: News On 6


Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The unrelenting heat wave is making it tougher for some folks to breathe. Ozone levels have the area on high alert. 

Ozone is something you can't see, but it's definitely felt by people with breathing problems.

Six-year-old Jaxon Anello would much rather be outside than in a doctor's office, but allergies and asthma have plagued him since he was a toddler.

"Sometimes my lungs hurt," Jaxon Anello said. "When I'm running a lot."

His mom keeps an eye out for Ozone Alert days.

"We get the alerts on our phone," said Stephanie Anello.

And on those days, she has to keep this little boy who she calls Action Jaxon inside.

"Cause we let him go outside, when it's raining, when its 35 below. But when it's this hot and we know it's going to affect his breathing we have to say no. And it's hard on us, because we know it's hard on him to be inside," she said. 

Jaxon isn't the only one suffering.

"We've seen a lot of asthma patients that typically don't have trouble when the weather is hot, that now are having difficulty when they're outside," said Dr. Lynn Wiens, an allergist and immunologist. 

Nancy Graham manages Tulsa's air quality program. She says all of the heat and sunlight is reacting with pollutants in the air to create ground level ozone.

"Ozone - you can't see it, but it is physically affecting our respiratory tract, physically affecting even healthy people," said Nancy Graham with the INCOG Air Quality Program.

And while we can't change the weather, Graham says we can change our behavior to keep the air a little cleaner.

"Getting our gasoline at night, during this weather pattern is going to help minimize emissions in the air," she said. "Don't do things that pollute in the morning hours."

Stephanie Anello says doing those little things can make sure her little guy can do the same things as other kids.

"This is why, this is why I do all of the things is for him, for our kids. And it's true I want him to have a good day every day," she said. 

"I don't want his life to be affected by it. He's a kid, you know."

We've already had twice as many Ozone Alert days in 2011 than last year. If we keep exceeding federal limits, we could end up on the dirty air list.

But the good news is: regulators look at a three-year average not just one summer.