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Air quality alert issued for Chicago due to ozone pollution amid extreme heat

Be careful out in the extremely hot temps
Be careful out in the extremely hot temps 03:43

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Record heat and sunshine led to an air quality alert Monday in the Chicago area as ozone pollution climbs to unhealthy levels for some.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued an Air Pollution Action Day for the Chicago Metropolitan area, in effect until midnight Monday night. The combination of hotter-than-normal temperatures and sunny skies is pushing ozone pollution levels to the "Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups" category at times on Monday.

While the ozone layer at high levels of the atmosphere protects people on Earth from the sun's harmful radiation, ozone pollution at ground level is unhealthy to breathe. 

Young children and the elderly, along with people who have respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema, should limit outdoor activities and exertion. All residents are urged to do their part to reduce pollution levels by carpooling, limiting engine idling, and waiting until cooler evening hours to fill up their gas tanks or mow their lawns.

Similar weather conditions, with hot sunshine and breezy south winds, are forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, so additional air quality alerts are possible.

According to the American Lung Association, the Chicago area ranks No. 17 out of 223 metro areas for the worst ozone levels.  The top four are all in California. 

However, Chicago has made big improvements, the Lung Association found.  

It has recorded about 19 fewer ozone action days in recent years compared with the late 1980s.  

Albany, N.Y. ranks as the cleanest city for ozone. It reported one or no action days every year since 2013. 

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