The Formation of SmogPhotochemical smog (or just smog for short) is a term used to describe air pollution that is a result of the interaction of sunlight with certain chemicals in the atmosphere. One of the primary components of photochemical smog is ozone. While ozone in the stratosphere protects earth from harmful UV radiation, ozone on the ground is hazardous to human health. Ground-level ozone is formed when vehicle emissions containing nitrogen oxides (primarily from vehicle exhaust) and volatile organic compounds (from paints, solvents, and fuel evaporation) interact in the presence of sunlight. Therefore, some of the sunniest cities are also some of the most polluted.
Smog and Your HealthAccording to the American Lung Association, your lungs and heart can be permanently affected by air pollution and smog. While the young and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the effects of pollution, anyone with both short and long term exposure can suffer ill health effects. Problems include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, pneumonia, inflammation of pulmonary tissues, heart attacks, lung cancer, increased asthma-related symptoms, fatigue, heart palpitations, and even premature aging of the lungs and death.
How to Protect Yourself from Air PollutantsThe American Lung Association ranks some of the most polluted cities in the United States. California is ranked in 6 of the top 10 most polluted cities for ozone pollution. While you may not be able to move to a less polluted city, there are things you can do to protect yourself from the effects of air pollution.
- First, watch a series of animations and movies depicting the formation of air pollution. Go to the air pollution movies now
- Then, learn to understand the Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area. Go to the AQI.
- Next, get familiar with Ozone Action Days and why you should never ignore them. Go to the Ozone Action Days page.
- Then, follow the National Air Quality Forecast. Check the National Forecast now.
- Finally, familiarize yourself with the effects of smog on your health. Go to the air pollution poster.
More Information of Smog
- Smog - Who Does it Hurt? This informative 10-page brochure from the EPA deals mainly with the human health effects of smog.
- How to Make Smog This lesson plan for students shows how to simulate smog in the classroom.
- Smog Environmental Lesson Plan This lesson plan is highly informative and gives all the background on the causes of smog.
- The Straight Line on Bad Ozone A terrific 11-page document all about tropospheric ozone formation.
- Smog in Canada Explains how to minimize the health risks associated with smog.
- London Smog and the Disaster of 1952 This 40 page book is printable and explains London's struggle with air quality.
- The Problem with Chicago Smog and Urban Heat Islands This study shows the ways in which smog is affecting Chicago, but the information can apply to any major metropolitan area.
- The Most Polluted Cities in the World The American Lung Association ranks the worst cities in the US for air pollution.
Want to know where you should relocate to in order to avoid ground-level ozone pollution? According to the 2007 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association, The five cleanest cities are
- Boone, Iowa
- Bellingham, Washington
- Bloomington, Illinois
- Boise City, Idaho
- Brunswick, Georgia