Ozone Action Days and What You Can Do to Help

We’re all familiar with the term “ozone action day” and typically associate it with a hot summer day.  But what does it really mean?  The CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, a proud partner of Green Mountain Energy Company, explains the significance of ozone pollution – and what you can do to make a difference.

We’re all familiar with the term “ozone action day” and typically associate it with a hot summer day.  But what does it really mean?  The CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, a proud partner of Green Mountain Energy Company, explains the significance of ozone pollution – and what you can do to make a difference.

Ozone is a form of oxygen not emitted directly into the air, but formed through chemical reactions between natural and man-made emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen in the presence of sunlight.  Sources of these pollutants include automobiles, gas-powered motors, refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, solvents used in dry cleaners and paint shops, and wherever natural gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and oil are combusted.

Ozone pollution is the periodic increase in the concentration of ozone in the ambient air, the natural air that surrounds us. It is mainly a daytime problem during summer months because warm temperatures play a role in its formation. When temperatures are high, sunshine is strong, and winds are weak, ozone can accumulate to unhealthful levels.

The biggest concern with high ozone concentration is the damage it causes to human health, vegetation, and to many common materials we use. High concentrations of ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, and lung damage. People who suffer from lung diseases like bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, and colds have even more trouble breathing when the air is polluted. These effects can be worse in anyone who spends significant periods of time exercising or working outdoors.

Adults breathe more than 10,000 times each day.  During exercise or strenuous work, we breathe more often and draw air more deeply into the lungs. When we exercise heavily, we may increase our intake of air by as much as 10 times our level at rest.

When ozone levels are predicted to reach unhealthy levels or are currently being measured at unhealthy levels, an ozone alert is issued. These alerts are to caution citizens to limit their time outdoors as well as remind them to take actions to help reduce their emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone.

Simple actions everyone can take to reduce air pollution include:

  • limit driving
  • combine errands
  • carpool or ride the bus
  • avoid idling
  • postpone refueling your vehicle or mowing the lawn until after 6:00 p.m.
  • tuning up your vehicle

Every effort counts!  If you live in Central Texas you can sign up for ozone alerts via email through the CLEAN AIR Force website at www.cleanairforce.org, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CLEAN-AIR-Force-of-Central-Texas.