Two more heat-related deaths in Houston

HOUSTON The best advice on days of extreme heat and dangerous ozone pollution is to limit your time outside.

Right now, Houston's weather is providing a double threat. It's not just the heat. It's also the quality of the air itself. On Wednesday, portions of Harris County were at a red level, meaning risky ozone levels. That same pattern returned on Thursday afternoon in portions of east Harris County.

Wind patterns, heat and pollution are making the air unhealthy to breathe because of ozone problems, especially for people with existing health issues.

"Red means stay indoors for those who have respiratory problems," said Obi Odiakasa with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality. "Do not mow your lawn. Stay out of the weather and just be cautious."

Red is considered moderately unhealthy for people with respiratory problems. After that comes the purple and ultimately there's a maroon level. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says Houston has made it to the unhealthy red level four times so far this year. Last year at this time, it had happened only once.

On Thursday, state electric regulators unanimously rejected a request to stop utility companies from cutting off power during extreme hot weather. State Representative Sylvester Turner and several consumer groups had requested an immediate ban on electric disconnections. Several providers, including Reliant Energy and TXU, do offer "no disconnect programs" during the summer months for the elderly, critical care patients and low income customers.

One hundred and thirty eight counties in Texas are under burn bans right now, including most of southeast Texas. Montgomery, Harris, Ft. Bend and Brazoria Counties are just some of the areas with outdoor burn bans, meaning residents are not allowed to burn anything outdoors because of the dry conditions and risk of wildfires.

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