With the arrival of warm temperatures in Utah, so does summer ozone pollution. Unlike thick winter inversions, ozone is odorless and colorless and typically cannot be seen with the naked eye. Reducing emissions from a range of sources is key to limiting ozone build-up.
« The summer season is starting, so we expect ozone levels to rise, » said Bo Call, head of the air monitoring section.
Ozone is the result of a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are caused by a combination of emissions from industrial plants, vehicles, household products and cleaning products , paints and solvents. When the right weather conditions are met, NOx and VOCs create ground-level ozone, posing challenges to Utah’s air quality.
« The most likely days to see an elevated ozone level are warm, sunny days that are also quite wind-slack, » Call said.
Breathing in ozone can damage lung tissue, and even small amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. Ozone can also worsen chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Division of Air Quality (DAQ) scientists say change plans if ozone levels are expected to be high on certain days.
“If ozone levels rise, moving activities outdoors to the morning when ozone levels are lower would be a good move for anyone who might be sensitive to higher ozone levels,” Call said.
You can also help reduce emissions by switching from gas-powered to electric lawn equipment, using public transportation, and driving cleaner gas-powered vehicles. Level 3 gas.
Action Alerts Health Guide
During the summer, DAQ meteorologists issue health guidance and action alerts if high ozone levels are forecast. The guidance and alerts help residents plan ahead and adjust their activities during times of high ozone.
- Action Alerts notify the public of actions needed to combat current pollution levels. Three basic symbols are used to indicate unlimited, voluntary and mandatory actions.
- Voluntary action (symbol = ▼)*: reduce vehicle use by taking public transport or consolidating travel. Industry should optimize operating conditions to minimize air pollution emissions.
- Mandatory action (symbol = ): industry should optimize operating conditions to minimize air pollution emissions.
- Health orientation helps determine how the highest level of pollution of the day will affect human health. These are green, yellow, orange or red ratings based on the amount of ozone pollution currently in the air.
Stay up to date by checking out air.utah.gov or by downloading the Utah Air app for hourly updates and three-day air quality forecasts. You can also sign up to receive air quality forecast emails that are sent when DAQ issues action alerts and health claims.