NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Heat waves and worsening air quality often go hand-in-hand. Hot temperatures along with stagnant air can mean an increase in ozone levels and particulate matter at the surface.

Since the summer heat is unlikely to break any time soon, Middle Tennessee may be looking at air quality impacts in the next few weeks.

Dr. Anand Popuri, a Pulmonologist at TriStar Summit Medical Center, says that some conditions make it harder to deal with lower air quality, “If you have underlying asthma, COPD, or heart disease, it can make it a little bit harder to breathe. So if you have one of those conditions, you have to be aware.”

Air pollution can be very hazardous even to those who are healthy. “These pollutants and items will get blocked in your airway and cause issues with getting oxygen inflammation. So it’ll not only cause lung disease, but it will cause heart disease as well as exacerbations of underlying lung conditions,” said Dr. Popuri.

Dr. Popuri also says that those who’ve had COVID-19, especially severe cases, must be cautious. “A perfectly healthy, 40-year-old person could have had a severe COVID infection, and then they just don’t have the same reserve they would normally. So if you’ve had COVID before and especially a severe COVID infection, changes in air quality will certainly cause issues.”

Air Quality levels are measured using the Air Quality Index. If it’s green, the air is healthy for everyone. If it’s yellow or orange, those in sensitive groups should take precautions. If the index is red, purple, or maroon, everyone should be concerned.