The AIRNow web site provides the public with easy access to national air quality
information. The web site offers daily air quality forecasts as well
as near real-time air quality data for over 100 cities across the
U.S., and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality
websites. With the availability of the near real-time compiled
information, citizens can become aware of the areas of the country
that have chronic ground level ozone problems. Ozone and other air
quality problems can cause or worsen respiratory and other health
problems. It is important for the public to have access to ozone
information to make informed decisions.
- irritate your respiratory system
- reduce lung function
- aggravate asthma
- inflame and damage cells that line your lungs
- aggravate chronic lung diseases
- cause permanent lung damage
It is important to know that lung damage caused
by ozone can occur without any noticeable signs. People who live in
areas where ozone levels are frequently high may find that their
initial symptoms go away over time. Ozone continues to cause lung
damage even when the symptoms have disappeared. The best way to
protect your health is to find out when ozone levels are elevated in
your area and take simple precautions to minimize exposure even when
you donít feel obvious symptoms.
How can unhealthy exposure to ozone be avoided?
Chances of being affected by ozone increase with the amount of outdoor
activity and the strenuous nature of the activity. If an activity
requires heavy exertion, you could either reduce the time spent on the
activity or substitute another activity that requires more moderate
exertion (e.g., go for a walk rather than a jog). In addition, you
could plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in
the morning or evening.
Can we help the ground-level ozone problem? Yes,
there are many simple steps citizens can take to help decrease the
production of compounds that create ground-level ozone:
On and Off the Road
- Reduce automobile use by biking, walking, car
or van pooling.
- When driving, avoid traffic congestion; plan
an alternative route to avoid traditional stop-and-go rush-hour
- Avoid long periods of unnecessary idling.
- Combine trips whenever possible.
- Reduce fuel consumption (and associated
emissions) by maintaining a vehicle to manufacturers'
specifications. A well-tuned car with properly inflated, balanced
and rotated tires uses less gasoline and emits fewer pollutants.
- Pick one day a week to leave your car at
home. If only 1 percent of America's car owners did this, it would
save millions of gallons of gasoline a year and keep a good deal of
pollutants out of the atmosphere.
On the Homefront
- Conserve energy - at home, at work, everywhere. In the long term,
it helps to reduce the emissions associated with energy production.
- Opt for water-based cleaning and painting products whenever
- Apply paint with rollers and brushes instead of sprays; it cuts
down on fumes.
- Enjoy summer barbecues, but avoid using charcoal lighter fluid.
Consider natural gas, propane or electric grills as alternatives.
- Consider manual or electric-powered lawn and garden maintenance
equipment when replacing a gasoline-powered mower.
- Try telecommuting.
- Install a bike rack for employees who wish to ride to work.
- Encourage businesses to buy and maintain fleets of
energy-efficient cars and trucks.
- Tell friends, family and co-workers what you are doing and why.
Education and small modification of activities will do wonders for
keeping air cleaner in your corner of the world.
An Ozone Action Partnership is a coalition of businesses, governments,
community groups and individuals that educates the public about the
dangers of ground-level ozone and encourages people to take voluntary
actions to reduce their contributions to air pollution.
An Ozone Action Day is declared when exceptionally high concentrations
of ground-level ozone are forecasted. The Partnership's participating
businesses notify their employees so they can telecommute, share rides
to work, use mass transit, and take other steps to help reduce smog.
The Partnerships also notify the press so the public can pitch in too.
Many Ozone Action Day programs offer email alerts services, to which
you can subscribe, to advise you of possible high ozone days.
In this lesson, students will reflect upon all they have learned up
to this point about ozone, create a list of actions citizens can take
to reduce ground level ozone, and create a flyer (poster, web page) to
educate others about ground level ozone.