Unhealthy smog forecast today

LAWRENCEVILLE - As smog season hits metro Atlanta, it's getting harder and harder to breathe.

Both Monday and today were forecast as smog alert days, with air quality that would make breathing outdoors difficult for people, such as children, the elderly or those with asthma, who are sensitive to pollutants.

Already, there have been five days this year where pollutants in the air exceeded federal air quality standards. Three were in May.

"We're right at the threshold right now between being healthy and unhealthy for groups that are sensitive to air quality issues," Clean Air Campaign spokesman Michael Halicki said. "It's really shades of gray. Everybody's body is different."

Days are rated as "good," "moderate," "unhealthy for sensitive groups," "unhealthy," "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" on a color scale that ranges from green to purple.

Atlanta's smog season is marked by levels of ground-level ozone or particle pollutants. Fires in south Georgia and a large tire fire in north Georgia meant high levels of particle pollutants May 16 and 17, Halicki said. Ground-level ozone was higher May 1.

Halicki said high gas prices have led more people to consider car pooling or other methods of transportation, a habit that decreases the amount of air pollution. The Clean Air Campaign has seen an 80 percent increase among people looking for car pools, he said.

To sign up for smog alerts or for more information on smog season, visit www.cleanaircampaign.com.