EcoTrack 11: Today is an ozone warning day

(WTOL) - It's an Ozone Warning Day. The warning is "precautionary for sensitive groups." The suggestions are to:

  • stay inside during the hottest part of the day
  • drink plenty of water

Sensitive groups include anyone with breathing problems, children playing outdoors, and people who work or exercise outdoors.

What is ozone?

Ozone is a gas that occurs both in the Earth's upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be "good" or "bad" for your health and the environment, depending on its location in the atmosphere.

Good ozone

Ozone is produced naturally high up in the stratosphere.

Bad ozone

At ground level, ozone is a harmful pollutant. Ozone pollution is a concern during the summer months because strong sunlight and hot weather result in harmful ozone concentrations in the air we breathe. (EPA)

How is it harmful?

Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. "Bad" ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.

Healthy people also experience difficulty breathing when exposed to ozone pollution. Because ozone forms in hot weather, anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer may be affected, particularly children, outdoor workers and people exercising.