News in Brief: Rising Temperatures Threaten Air Quality, Sensitive Lungs



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With a high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday, Berkeley entered a danger zone.

As the temperature climbed, so did the Air Quality Index, a measurement of pollutants in the air.

"(Tuesday) was one of the worst days yet," said Luna Salaver, spokesperson for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. "Low-level ozone pollution is dangerous because it burns the lungs."

Following Monday's air quality level of 56, Tuesday, which was declared a Spare the Air Day, hit a level of 101, which is considered unhealthy for people with sensitive lungs.

High concentrations of low-level ozone can cause such problems as asthma attacks, and has even greater effects on athletes and children.

"Since both athletes and children breathe faster than most people, they will inhale more ozone," Salaver said.

With all the concern about air pollution, there are some things everybody can keep an eye out for to ease the problem. For example, aerosol cans that are used for hair spray and spray paint are big contributors to the pollution. Auto emissions play a large role as well.

These, when combined with high, hot temperatures and stagnant winds create ground-level ozone patches.

"We are asking the public to use something other than cars on high concentration days to keep up the quality of the air," said Salaver.

COLIN SUEYRES

Berkeley Mayor Works to Shrink Information Gap

Mayor Shirley Dean met with senior policy advisors for both major party presidential candidates last weekend to pressure them to help solve the nation's information gap.

Dean said Vice President Al Gore's adviser was the most responsive when a select group of mayors from accross the country made clear their priorities.

As co-chair of the mayors' policy team on technology in schools, Dean urged the presidential candidates to provide enough resources to schools to ensure a ratio of four students to every computer. In Berkeley, Dean estimates that there are currently six students for every computer.

"Sixty percent of all new jobs require pretty sophisticated computer skills," she said. "But only 20 percent of the people who are looking for jobs have those skill."

Many schools, especially ones serving low-income communities, lack computers or have old outdated ones. In many others, the teachers simply do not know how to use them, Dean said.

Dean said the mayors will give the next president one term to solve this problem.

WILL EVANS

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