Ozone Season Begins April
Phoenix, Arizona. April 2014. Maricopa County’s official Ozone Season begins April 1 and will continue until the end of September. Just because the season begins on April Fool’s Day, ozone is no joke.
Ground level ozone pollution is a direct threat to your lungs and can trigger asthma, among other symptoms. Older adults and those with pulmonary conditions are more sensitive to elevated ozone concentrations. Children are at higher risk since their lungs are still developing and they are most likely to be active outdoors. They are also more likely than adults to have asthma.
Everyone can be affected, even healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors.
“Unlike other pollutants ozone is odorless and colorless, but it is just as dangerous to your health,” Maricopa County Air Quality Director Bill Wiley said. “Please pay attention to air quality alerts and do your part by driving less and refueling after dark.”
Ozone pollution is more prevalent in the summertime because pollutants volatile organic compounds (VOCs, solvents and fuels) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) react more readily in higher temperatures and sunlight. Ground level ozone forms when emissions from vehicles, gas and diesel equipment, industrial and chemical processes, and even household activities react in the sun.
Last year was a busy one for air quality forecasters. There were 12 days when one or more monitors exceeded the federal ozone health standard in Maricopa County. That number is down from 2012 when there were 29 exceedances. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality also issued three high-pollution advisories and 25 health watches for ozone, in 2013.
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OZONE BACKGROUND: Ground level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction that needs heat from sunlight, NOx and VOCs to form. The months of April through September make up the Valley’s longer-than-normal “ozone season.”
Ozone pollution prevention tips:
• Drive less. When possible, carpool, van pool or use public transportation.
• Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at coffee shops, fast-food restaurants or banks. Park your car and go inside.
• Refuel your vehicle after dark or during cooler evening hours.
• Use low VOC or water-based paints, stains, finishes and paint strippers.
• Delay big painting projects until high-pollution advisories or health watches have passed.
• Conserve electricity.