The rising level of air pollution is a serious concern all over the world. An increasing number of vehicles on the road, deforestation, increasing pollution are some of the main reasons for an excessive amount of pollution. The situation worsens during winter as a result of dropping temperatures, fog, and pollution, which results in a thick layer of smog. Another major air pollutant that is posing a great threat to human life is ground-level ozone. According to some reports, several cities in India such as Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Faridabad have witnessed a spike in the ground-level ozone. So, with World Ozone Day (September 16) just around the corner, let’s discuss in detail why ground-level ozone air pollution is a serious concern.
Importance of World Ozone Day
Celebrated on 16th September every year, World Ozone Day marks the day back in 1987 when the Montreal Protocol was signed. This is the reason why many special events such as seminars and talks are held in Montreal on 16th September. World Ozone Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly and is being celebrated since 1994. The theme of this year’s World Ozone Day 2019 is ’32 Years and Healing’. The theme celebrates more than three decades of international cooperation to protect the ozone layer and climate to make the planet healthy.
What is Ozone Pollution?
Ozone is present in both the upper atmosphere of Earth and at the ground level. Depending on where it’s present, ozone can be either good or bad. Ozone that occurs on Earth’s stratosphere forms a protective layer and protects living beings from the harmful ultraviolet rays. However, manmade chemicals have destroyed the beneficial ozone layer, which is also known as ‘ozone hole’.
Ozone present in the Earth’s lower atmosphere, close to the ground level is known as bad ozone. This bad ozone is formed when pollutants emitted from cars, power plants, industrial boilers, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight. This ground-level ozone is found to be very harmful air pollutant that can lead to many health problems.
How is Ground Level Ozone Formed?
Ground-level ozone forms when two primary pollutants react in sunlight and stagnant air. The two primary pollutants are nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Both NOx and VOCs come from different types of natural sources and also human activities. Approximately 95 percent of NOx comes from burning coal, gasoline and oil in motor vehicles. VOCs originate from natural sources such as coniferous forests.
Who are at a Higher Risk?
People suffering from lung disease, older adults, children are at a higher risk of ozone air pollution. In addition, people with certain genetic characteristics and reduced intake of certain essential nutrients such as Vitamin C and E are at a greater risk. Children have under-developed lungs and also indulge in outdoor activities, which is the reason why they are at a higher risk. Exposure to ground-level ozone also makes children more vulnerable to asthma.
What are the Effects of Ozone Air Pollution?
Ground-level ozone harms people of all age groups. A number of scientific studies have linked ground-level ozone air pollution to problems such as:
- Coughing, airway irritation, pain when breathing
- Breathing difficulties during outdoor activities
- Inflammation, which feels the same as sunburn on the skin
- Permanent lung damage
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Ground-level ozone pollutants irritates your lungs and respiratory system. This leads to coughing, irritation in your throat, uncomfortable sensation in your chest. Exposure to harmful ozone also reduces lung function and makes it difficult to take deep breaths. Long-term exposure to ground-level ozone aggravates asthma and is likely to cause permanent lung damage. This also leads to abnormal lung development among children.
Are there Symptoms of Ground Level Ozone Exposure?
Ozone damage occurs without any noticeable signs. People living in areas which have a higher level of ground-level ozone may notice some initial symbols, which fade away over the time, especially when you are exposed to a high level of ozone for a long period of time. Even if you don’t notice the symptoms, ozone continues to damage your lungs.
How to Reduce Ozone Air Pollution?
Follow these steps mentioned below to reduce ozone air pollution:
- Check for the energy stars rating before buying any electrical appliance
- Carpool with your friends, use public transportation or walk whenever possible
- Keep the engines of your vehicles tuned
- Follow the instructions for efficient vapor recovery
- Inflate your tires properly
- Reduce the number of trips in your car
- Avoid burning leaves, trash and other waste
The Effect of Ozone Pollution on Indoor Air Quality
Ground-level ozone has a negative impact on indoor air quality. The outdoor air pollutants easily enter your home through open windows, cracks in the walls, doors and window sealants, thereby affecting the indoor air quality. The ground-level ozone and other gases that enter your home react with the already existing chemicals present in the building. This reaction creates harmful chemical byproducts, which can lead to a number of health problems such as asthma, breathing problems and respiratory problems. The only way to keep the indoor air clean and pollutant-free is by using an air purifier. Use air purifiers with an activated carbon filter that are effective in reducing the level of ozone in the indoor air.
Last Few Words
With rising levels of ozone in India, taking the right steps to prevent further damage. The increasing level of ground-level ozone is one of the main reasons for the rising cases of asthma and breathing problems. So, on this World Ozone Day, let’s make a pledge to take the necessary steps to control the alarming situation and save our future.