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Summer Heat and Smog Produce Ozone That Negatively Affects Air Quality

Hot summers plus smog create a perfect environment for ground level ozone production. Find out why it happens, and what you can do to stay healthy and safe this summer.

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Summer heat and smog ozone

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In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, much like the rest of the United States, summer temperatures are peaking. With July and August historically the hottest months of the year, there’s a growing indoor air quality concern among experts.  In particular, how high summer temperatures and smog will produce lots of ground-level ozone pollution. Across the country, it’s a similar story.

Melanie Sattler, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, believes residents of hot summer areas should be concerned. Specifically, when temperatures are above 85 degrees. “If temperatures are below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, then we don’t form significant ozone,” said Sattler in a Dallas Morning News article. “The higher the temperature above 85 degrees, the more likely you are to form high levels of ozone.”

Smog and ozone is a big issue in hot regions across the country for two reasons. First, you have high emission levels of nitrogen oxides from transportation. Second, volatile organic compounds from a plethora of sources, including fuels, pesticides and automotive products are present in the air. When coupled with high heat, the resulting ground-level ozone poses a threat to multiple groups of people.

Health Risks From Summer Heat and Smog

Several groups of people are at a higher risk from summer ozone exposure. Namely the young, active adults and those with respiratory illnesses. Children and young adults are typically the most active outdoors during summertime, and 40% more likely to suffer respiratory problems on high ozone days. Active adults have a higher level of exposure due to more time spent being active outdoors, be it work or play. And for people with respiratory diseases, they simply have a higher sensitivity to ozone exposure.

When ozone levels are high due to summer heat and smog, limiting time outdoors is crucial to stay healthy.  Especially for the more vulnerable groups of people most sensitive to air pollution. 

Check Your Local Ozone Levels

Fortunately, there are many ways to check for ozone alerts and local air pollution levels. Most smartphones provide nearby air quality ratings on the weather app. Your local radio station and news outlet will also cover air quality when covering the weather. Lastly, you can head over to the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality site, AirNow.

Alternatively, check out this article for indoor air quality solutions, like mechanical ventilation, which can help you breathe cleaner air indoors. It does so by drawing and filtering fresh outdoor air in while simultaneously exhausting stale air out, limiting the impact ozone and outdoor pollutants has on your indoor space.

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