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Ground level ozone is always all around us

By Staff | Jun 4, 2011

Ground level ozone is formed by combining nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and the heat of the sun.

While a certain amount of ground level ozone is always present, it becomes harmful when it reaches 101 and above on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI). It is at this point on the index that health alerts are issued due to the high level of ground level ozone.

Who is affected by these high levels of ground level ozone? Everyone! Exposure to ground level ozone can have a cumulative effect on a person.

A healthy person, exposed repeatedly to high levels of ground level ozone, can develop any number of respiratory health problems.

It may take years, but the health related problems can become a reality.

High levels of ozone can be more harmful to children than adults. Children spend more time outdoors than adults, especially in the summer.

Children have a higher breathing rate than adults relative to their body weight and lung surface area.

While they are outside, children are engaged in more sports and other vigorous activities than adults.

All of this adds up to children breathing significantly more air than an adult.

Children have narrower airways than adults.

An irritation or inflammation that may only cause a slight discomfort in an adult could result in a potentially significant obstruction in the airways of a young child.

Adults with asthma or other respiratory problems probably know when the air is not clean.

Adults are more likely to pay attention to messages their body is sending related to ease of breathing.

Children are not as likely to be tuned into the messages their body is sending them.

This is where it is important for parents to know what the quality of the air is.

An adult is more likely to stay inside on a day when they are having trouble breathing; children may not heed the same early warnings.

There are many resources available to individuals and to parents of children who may be affected by high levels of ground level ozone pollution. The first thing to do is find out what the AQI forecast is for tomorrow.

If you will register on our website, you can receive an email forecast for tomorrow’s AQI reading.

You can chose to receive this forecast daily or only when an ozone alert has been forecasted. For additional ozone related information, go to the EPA’s website, www.airnow.gov.

They have information on all matters ozone. Another great website is www.italladdsup.gov. Each of these websites can be used to educate yourself and help you gain control over ozone.

More information on this and other ozone related topics may be found at our website www.cleanairconnection.com. You can also register to receive ozone alert emails on this website.

Mike Ball can be reached at 263-1743 x3602 and mball@region9wv.com.