SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A combination of tailpipe exhaust and sizzling temperatures expected Monday have prompted Bay Area air quality officials to issue a Spare the Air alert for Memorial Day.

The air alert, the first this year, anticipates elevated concentrations of smog as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels, said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

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“This alert highlights the need to reduce our driving and keep air quality healthy by finding alternatives to driving alone such as taking transit or walking or biking,” Broadbent said.

The air alerts are issued when ozone pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. Ozone, or smog, can cause throat irritation, congestion, chest pain, trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema, air officials said.

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Long-term exposure to ozone can reduce lung function. Ozone pollution is particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions.

More information is available at sparetheair.org.

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