ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota health officials have extended an air pollution warning in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area through Tuesday due to expected high levels of ozone.

The state pollution control agency says ozone is expected to hit levels that are risky for sensitive groups. That means children, the elderly, people with respiratory conditions and anyone headed outside for heavy work or play.

The MPCA says outdoor activities should be postponed or done in the morning, when ozone levels are lower.

Cassie McMahon is an air quality specialist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  She said the Ozone pollution is just an added irritant.

“For those that are perhaps more sensitive to air pollution, they are really going to feel it. So it’s both of them working together that is making for a tough day to breath,” McMahon said.

When you think about ozone layers, we think about the layer we want to protect in the upper stratosphere. But McMahon said the ground ozone layer is where the problems arise in these conditions.

Ozone is produced on hot sunny days.  It’s a chemical reaction that always occurs but when it’s very hot and sunny, the reaction goes faster.

“On the ground levels, ozone acts like a respiratory irritant.  What that can do is cause tightness in your chest, or a cough,” she said.

She said those who have asthma or COPD are especially prone to having problems.  But with these conditions she says we all might find it a bit difficult to breath.

The agency says people can help during air-quality advisories by reducing car trips, using gas-powered equipment less and holding off on using paints and solvents.

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