We hear talk about ozone, but what actually is it? Isn’t it something high up in the sky?
It can be confusing to hear on one hand how ozone is good and there’s a hole in the layer of it, and then on the other hand ozone is bad and harmful. So what then, is ozone?
Well, as it turns out, there are two kinds:
1) Ozone found at ground level is a major component of smog. It can damage lung tissue and cause other health problems. It forms by a chemical reaction in the presence of heat and sunlight. Pollutants called nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the ingredients that come together to form smog.
Ozone levels are highest on hot summer days when there is little wind. Ground level Ozone, or Ozone pollution, should not be confused with stratospheric Ozone, located high up in the atmosphere, which helps to block harmful ultraviolet rays.
2) Ozone found in the Stratosphere (the one we usually think of) plays a beneficial role by absorbing most of the skin damaging ultraviolet sunlight (called UV-B). So only a small amount is allowed to reach the Earth’s surface. The absorption of UV-B creates a source of heat, which actually forms the stratosphere itself.
Ozone thus plays a key role in the temperature structure of the Earth’s atmosphere. Without the filtering action of the ozone layer, more of the Sun’s UV-B radiation would penetrate the atmosphere and would reach the Earth’s surface.
From HEAT AND WILDFIRES MAKING BAD VALLEY AIR EVEN WORSE news article:
Monday, July 25, 2016 04:47PM
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —
With valley temperatures expected to stay above 105 degrees for most of this week officials with the Valley Air District have concerns with the timing of this extreme heat.
They say this is the time of year for high ozone levels.
“Unfortunately the end of July into August, and sometimes even into September, we compound that ozone problem with smoke from wildfires which is what we’re beginning to see the last couple of days,” Jamie Holt with the district said.
A wildfire near Monterey along the Central Coast is sending smoke into parts of the Valley and into the Sierra.
That smoke is trapped thanks to a high-pressure system parked right over California creating smoky and hazy conditions.
Holt says without any wind ozone levels climb in the valley and air quality gets worse.
“And then instead of having a little break overnight, into the morning, that smoke from the wildfires comes into the valley and settles closer to the ground,” Holt said.
Over at the Allergy Institute in north Fresno, Dr. A.M. Aminian says if you see or smell the smoke you are already at risk.
“Because the air is so stagnant all of the particulate matters soot and ash they can stick to your face to your body and to your hair and to your clothing,” Aminian said.
Aminian says after being outside you should take a shower and change your clothes and if you must travel through an area with bad air or smoke he says there are steps you can take to protect yourself while driving.
“Make sure you use your recirculation button, make sure you use your air conditioner in the car,” he said. “They are both filter the outside air.”
He adds the biggest step you can take to stay healthy during a heat wave with bad air is to drink plenty of water.
“Remember, if you caffeinated drinks of any kinds or even alcohol there are more diuretics that contribute more to your dehydration,” Aminian explained.