Is the air we are breathing killing us? Is the air we are breathing leading to long-term health effects? I never could have imagine that I could wake up one morning being warned to stay inside because the air outside is too hazardous to breathe in. The air outside could cause some symptoms that could be detrimental to the human body. Like what? Who could have imagined?
Ozone is a colorless gas that can be good or bad, depending on where it is. Ozone in the stratosphere is good because it shields the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Ozone at ground level, where we breathe, is bad because it can harm human health. Ozone forms when two types of pollutants (VOCs and NOx) react in sunlight. These pollutants come from sources such as vehicles, industries, power plants, and products such as solvents and paints.
Ozone can cause a number of health problems, including coughing, breathing difficulty, and lung damage. Exposure to ozone can make the lungs more susceptible to infection, aggravate lung diseases, increase the frequency of asthma attacks, and increase the risk of early death from heart or lung disease.
Even healthy adults can experience ozone’s harmful effects, but some people may be at greater risk. They include:
- People with lung disease such as asthma
- Children, including teenagers, because their lungs are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults
- Older adults
- People who are active outdoors, including outdoor workers