Ozone and Your Health
Protecting public health and the environment is the goal of the EPA’s National Air Quality Standard and limits on ozone levels. When it comes to limiting ground level ozone, many large cities do not meet these standards. What does that mean for your health?
When you go outside for a walk or when your child goes out to play on a warm sunny day in any large city, your and your child are likely to be exposed to ozone. If you mow your lawn on such a day, not only are you breathing ozone, you’re contributing to it by running your two-cycle engine. Volatile organic compounds - known as VOCs - and nitrogen oxides - known as N-O-X or NOx - are the products of combustion from motor vehicles and equipment, power plants and other sources of fossil fuel combustion. V-O-Cs and NOx combine in warm sunlight to create ozone.
Ozone attacks and destroys cells and tissue in the lungs. The result is inflammation and difficulty breathing. Ozone aggravates bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
Children playing outdoors, joggers and people working outdoors are at risk of serious health problems in areas with high ozone. Studies show that there are more heart attacks and premature deaths on high ozone days. To help lower ozone levels: Limit driving - Walk, bicycle or take public transportation. Avoid excessive idling of your automobile and keep you car well-tuned.
Refuel your car carefully and in the evening when it is cooler. On high ozone days, avoid using gasoline-powered equipment such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Contact your local, state and national representatives and let them know you want a responsible energy policy and proper monitoring and control of emissions from petrochemical refineries and power plants.