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Ozone - Not All Ozone Is Good for Earth

Upper Atmospheric Ozone Vs. Ground-Level Ozone

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Industrial smokestacks
Steve Hamblin/age fotostock/Getty Images
Ozone depletion may be a common news story, but many forget about the dangerous formation of ozone at ground level. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in your local weather forecast may often issue an Unhealthy Warning based on ground level ozone measurements if ground level ozone is going to affect people in a particular area. All persons in an area are advised to be on the lookout for health effects related to ozone pollutants when a warning or watch is issued. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that although ozone in the stratosphere protects us from harmful UV radiation, low level ozone is dangerous. Infants, children, and those with respiratory problems may be in particular danger.

Ground Level Ozone is caused when the sun reacts with pollutants from cars and industrial plants to form ozone at or near the surface of earth. The sunny weather you enjoy in many parts of the world may, unfortunately, be increasing the chances of the formation of ground level ozone. Summertime is especially dangerous in many traditionally sunny areas, especially those areas with large populations. The Environmental Protection Agency issues warnings and advisories for five major air pollutants.

  1. ground-level ozone
  2. particle pollution
  3. carbon monoxide
  4. sulfur dioxide
  5. nitrogen dioxide
According to associate writer Fred Cabral, “Ozone ignorance is a problem. Many people do not listen to the warnings given by local forecasters on the dangers of ozone.” While interviewing locals in the area, Fred discovered 8 reasons why people choose to ignore “Ozone Alert Days”. "Avoiding complacency is key to being safe from the dangers of ozone", Fred indicates, "and people should not become complacent about the issue." After multiple street interviews, Fred has investigated the ways to remain safe.

In fact, ozone alert days (sometimes called ozone action days depending on where you live) are days when high heat and humidity cause unhealthy and unsafe levels of air pollution in the ozone layer. Pollution levels are monitored via the Air Quality Index, which was designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so that cities and states can measure and report levels of pollutants in our air.

For more information on the ill effects of the EPA Air Quality Index Pollutants, download a medical poster on the effects of air pollutants.

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