We often see clear skies in Utah during the summer months, but there is still a pollution predator affecting our air quality that may not be as well known. Just like a real villain, ground level ozone is sneaky. It strikes even when the weather is good.
The Origin Story:
Typically in Utah, the focus is on air quality during the winter because of winter inversions, but air quality isn’t just a winter concern. In summer months, ground level ozone is the enemy. It has a significant effect on air quality as one of the main ingredients of ‘smog.’ Ground level ozone is formed when chemicals are released into the air and mutate as a result of a chemical reaction once exposed to the sun.
Ground level ozone uses gasses to penetrate anything that requires oxygen. As a direct attack, breathing ozone can cause coughing, tight chest, airway inflammation and can even contribute to poor lung function among other adverse effects. It also affects wildlife and some vegetation. If left to its devices, ozone can destroy the health of our community.
Who to Protect:
Ground level ozone is after everyone. Even though it lurks throughout the year, it is most prominent and powerful in summer months when sun exposure is hot and extended. It is especially harmful to those with breathing issues, pre-existing conditions and those who are outside for extended periods. Ground level ozone is created at higher levels in urban areas, but it can travel to any area. It will take us all to fight back.
Calling all Superheroes:
The call is going out to #ShowUCAIR and unite to fight ground level ozone this summer. Here are epic ways to combat it:
- Take time to check your vehicle’s tire pressure to ensure your car is running efficiently and not emitting unnecessary pollutants.
- Switch to electric lawn tools. Using electric lawn tools reduces the amount of chemicals released in the air.
- Try to do outdoor chores or errands during cooler parts of the day like the morning or the evening.
Making small changes can have a significant impact in the fight for clean air in Utah. For more information on ground level ozone and reducing its effects, visit www.ucair.org or https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/ground-level-ozone-basics