Ozone and Our Health

By Gary Peterson

Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant which can negatively impact your family’s health even when the air appears clear​​​​

Ozone can damage mucus membranes, airways, and other tissues it comes in contact with. This damage can lead symptoms such as eye irritation, cough, wheezing, and congestion. Long-term exposure can contribute the development of asthma, bronchitis, and heart conditions.

Ozone levels are typically highest in the hot summer months (June through August) and in areas where the processing, use, and/or burning of fossil fuels is common. Levels of ozone also vary by the time of day with the lowest levels in the early morning and increasing during the day until they peak between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

How can you reduce ozone’s effects on health of your family and community?

The following are two areas that you can concentrate on to reduce the effect of ozone on our communities and families.

  • Create less ozone—people using cars and trucks are responsible for the majority of ozone. The simple solution is to do the following:
    • drive less
    • active transportation
    • use fuel efficient and well maintained vehicles or take mass transit
    • avoid aggressive driving or prolonged idling.
    • encourage others to do all of the above.
  • Plan physical activity when and where ozone levels tend to be lower by
    • checking ozone levels and adjust physical activity when levels are high
    • planning outdoor activity during cooler times of day or opting for indoor physical activity when levels are high
    • avoiding physical activity by ozone sources (e.g. refineries and industrial/transportation centers)