Air Quality Awareness Week

What is Ground Level Ozone?

During the week of April 30-May 4 Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) will be posting information on various pollutants that are prevalent in the valley, challenges facing the county and how you can help keep our air clean and your family healthy.

Today’s topic, ozone.

Maricopa County’s official Ozone Season began April 1 and will continue until the end of September.

Ground level ozone pollution is a direct threat to your lungs and can trigger asthma, eye irritation among other symptoms. Older adults and those with pulmonary conditions are more sensitive to elevated ozone concentrations. Children are at higher risk since their lungs are still developing and they are most likely to be active outdoors. They are also more likely than adults to have asthma.

Ozone forms when two key pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) “cook” in the sun. These pollutants are precursors to ozone formation, meaning they must be present in the air for ozone to form.

Ground level ozone forms when emissions from vehicles, gas and diesel equipment, Industrial and chemical processes, and even household -products react in the sun.

Weather plays a big role in the levels of ozone as it does for all pollution. Sunlight and heat, for example, promote ozone formation. Light winds and temperature inversions both can keep pollution from dispersing.

You can do your part to help reduce ozone pollution by following these five prevention tips:

  • Drive less. When possible, carpool, van pool or use public transportation.
  • Sweep instead of using a leaf blower.
  • Avoid idling in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants   or banks. Park your car and go inside.
  • Refuel your vehicle after dark or during cooler evening hours.
  • Delay big painting projects until high-pollution advisories or health watches have passed.

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