After a long wait, it is finally getting warmer in Maine. However, the sudden heat we’ve been experiencing here isn’t just an uncomfortable shock, it’s also dangerous. According to this year’s State of the Air Report, released by the American Lung Association, York and Cumberland counties both received failing grades for the number of unhealthy air days they experienced from 2013 to 2015.

In southern Maine, ozone is no laughing matter and poses a serious risk to thousands of Mainers every year. As it turns out, we just had our first ozone day of the season.

Everyone’s health is at risk from air pollution, but children, the elderly and those with asthma and other lung diseases are more vulnerable. In York and Cumberland counties alone, more than 50,000 Mainers are living with asthma, meaning that each day ozone levels reach unhealthy levels, they must be careful about just being outdoors. High levels of ozone also affect healthy Mainers who work or exercise outdoors.

We can protect ourselves and our families by checking the Air Quality Index and limiting our activity outdoors when air pollution levels are high, but we must also make sure that we are supporting policies that combat climate change and increased emissions.

It is imperative that the Environmental Protection Agency has the ability it needs to enforce the Clean Air Act and promulgate rules and regulations that are protective of our health. The risk is too great to do less about cleaning up our air; I urge Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to protect life-saving regulations and fight for healthy air.

Marguerite A. Pennoyer, M.D.