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'Unhealthful' air stifles region 4th day in row


Maryland officials issued a "code red" air pollution alert for the Baltimore region yesterday, the fourth straight day of "unhealthful" air. Code red warns people with respiratory illnesses to curtail outdoor activities.

"It shocked everybody," because the forecast was for code yellow, or moderate air quality, said Quentin Banks, a Department of the Environment spokesman. A detector in Fair Hill, west of Newark, Del., registered 127 parts per billion of ozone, a lung irritant created by auto exhaust and other pollutants in the presence of heat and sunshine. The alert was issued though no other detectors found ozone in the unhealthful range, he said.

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