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D.C. Area Under "Code Orange" Air Quality Alert

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By Rebecca Sheir

As temperatures soar near 100 degrees, the D.C. area is under a Code Orange air-quality alert.

That means the level of pollution is considered unhealthy for certain at-risk groups.

Code-Orange air is particularly harmful to young children, older adults, "and people with chronic lung disease can have increased problems. Also people with chronic heart disease," says Dr. Greg Marshand, an emergency-room doctor at the Washington Hospital Center.

He says people in these groups should stay inside, "in an air-conditioned building, and avoid outdoor activity during this time."

When it gets this steamy, Marshand says a host of heat-related illnesses can crop up, from heat exhaustion: with symptoms of dizziness, nausea and sweatiness, to full-blown heat stroke.

"The body's ability to sweat is actually compromised," he says. "Internal temperature just continues to rise. And it is a potentially fatal illness."

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which provides daily reports of the region's air quality, says if people must venture outside, they should carpool or take public transit, and put off lawn care until the air quality improves.

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