June 1 marked the official start of ground‐level ozone season across the Denver Metro Area and Northern Front Range, the season will last through Aug. 31. Ozone season is a three‐month period in which weather conditions are prone to elevate concentrations of ground‐level ozone ‐‐ an air pollutant resulting from a chemical reaction between emissions factors and heat and sunlight ‐‐ to a level that may be unhealthy for some area residents to breathe.
Ground‐level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that affects all of us – particularly children and the elderly. Ozone can trigger attacks and symptoms in people with pre‐existing health conditions such as asthma or other respiratory diseases and may also affect healthy people who work or exercise outdoors. Groundlevel ozone can cause breathing difficulties and eye irritation, as well as a reduced resistance to lung infections and colds. It is likened to a sunburn on the lungs.
Ground‐level ozone pollution forms when emissions from gas‐powered vehicles and lawn equipment, industrial processes, and even household paints and solvents react with heat and sunlight. The highestozone levels usually occur in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and the wind is stagnant or light. During the 2012 ozone season, OzoneAware issued high ozone alerts for 38 out of 92 days.
To encourage area residents to take action to help reduce ozone pollution, OzoneAware asks residents to join its Clean Air Community and pledge certain ozone‐reducing behaviors such as driving less, taking transit, and mowing in the evening throughout the summer months.
Participants can also use a new online/mobile calculation tool – the OzoMeter – to track their activities, view their air quality impact,
and brag to their friends and colleagues about their progress on social media. OzoneAware will hold random prize drawings each week throughout the season, and those who pledge to take action will be entered to win prizes such as bicycles, electric lawn mowers and tickets to events.
Here are some of the actions Denver Metro/Northern Front Range residents can take to reduce groundlevel ozone:
- Drive less – walk or ride your bike when you can, group errands, take public transit and carpool whenever possible.
- Mow in the evening after 5 p.m.
- Refuel in the evening after 5 p.m.
- “Stop at the click” – do not overfill gas tanks when refueling.
- Keep vehicles regularly maintained.
- Tighten gas caps after refueling.
- Use electric lawn equipment.
- Avoid solvent‐based products; use water‐based paint, stain and sealants.
- Make a smart vehicle choice – choose hybrid, electric or more fuel‐efficient vehicles when purchasing or renting a car.
- Avoid idling and drive‐thru lines – turn off your engine and go inside.
- Sign up for Ozone Action Alerts.
- Take the Clean Air Community Pledge.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ozoneaware
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/OzoneAware
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SELF Magazine – “Is Everyday Air Pollution Putting You at Risk?”
SHAPE Magazine – “How Pollution Affects Your Workout”