You have heard much about smog. Perhaps you have considered moving into a community that has smog problems. Many United States communities have smog problems.

The fact is that breathing in smoggy air can be hazardous because smog contains that magic word that is referred to over and over again, "ozone." Ozone is a pollutant that can make us ill when there are elevated levels of it. It is an odorless, colorless gas that consists of three atoms of oxygen. There is, believe it or not, a difference between good ozone and bad ozone.

The good ozone occurs naturally in the earth's upper atmosphere between 10-30 miles above the earth. At that level, it protects us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Unfortunately, it is gradually being destroyed by man-made chemicals. This is referred to as the "hole" in the earth's ozone layer.

Contrast this with the "bad" ozone. At the ground level, ozone is formed when pollutants leave cars, power plants, and other industrial sources. Those pollutants act chemically in the presence of sunlight and form, among other things, ozone. Most people only have to worry about ozone exposure when ground levels are high. In many places in the United States, this happens during summer months.

When this occurs, an increasing number of people experience health effects, including respiratory problems. When ozone levels are very high, everybody should be concerned about exposure.

Certain people have predispositions to ozone related disease. Those with asthma, for example, may find an increase in asthma related attacks when ozone levels are high.

According to the government, there are four groups of people who are particularly sensitive to ozone. They are children, adults who work outdoors, people with respiratory illness, and certain persons who have an unusual susceptibility. In certain people, ozone can inflame the lung's lining and with repeated episodes of inflammation can even bring about permanent changes in the lungs.

The EPA has developed an air quality index which defines areas of high pollution. They've even assigned specific colors for each air quality index color making it easier at a glance to determine which portions of the country are suffering from unhealthy air pollution levels.

Do you want to know what you can do to reduce ozone levels? Drive less, carpool, make sure your car is well tuned, do not over fill your gas tank, and seal lids on certain chemicals that volatilize. Of course walking, biking, car pooling, and use of public transportation all help to reduce the amount of ozone in the environment.

Smog is found to exist more so in certain places than other places. If you have a choice of new neighborhoods, you might want to pick one that is less smog inclined.

Log in to comment