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Construction Workers Cope With Code Red Air Quality

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By Jessica Jordan

A code red air quality alert means you're urged to restrict outdoor activities, but for thousands of people who make a living working in the elements, it's business as usual on these days.

At one construction site on I-66 in Virginia, workers man heavy equipment in the sweltering heat despite warnings to keep out of the elements due to the code red air quality alert.

"We are used to it. We work in the hot and cold. Some days are hot and cold for us but it's OK for us," construction worker Yudi Vonquadi says.

Vonquadi was one of more than 200 people working at road project sites in Virginia during Tuesday's code red alert, according to the state's Department of Transportation. Jeff Wagner, communications manager for Fluor Lane Construction Company, which works with VDOT, says the bad air quality doesn't affect these workers as much.

"Construction workers, especially those working outside, have an advantage on days like today because typically they've been working in these kind of conditions throughout the summer. While it's a little worse today, their bodies have really been acclimated to this environment," Wagner says.

VDOT spokesman Steve Titunik says project foremen keep a closer eye on their crew during code red days.

"To ensure that personnel going out there to work are briefed on the unique conditions during the shift, supervisory personnel are also moving through the areas checking on their people," Titunik says.

Titunik says VDOT also encourages workers to take frequent breaks throughout the day.

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