Ozone is made up of three atoms of oxygen. It is highly reactive gas and is represented by O3. It occurs naturally as well as a man-made product in the Earth's upper atmosphere i.e. stratosphere and lower atmosphere i.e. troposphere.
Naturally it is formed through the interactions of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation with molecular oxygen O2. Do you know that the layer of ozone is around 6-30 miles above the surface of the Earth and reduces the harmful UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface?
But at ground level ozone is considered as a major air pollutant. We all know that ozone protect us from harmful UV radiations but ozone at ground level is dangerous and causes pollution. Let us study about Ozone pollution and how it affects health through this article.
Types of ozone
As discussed above ozone occurs both in the upper atmosphere of the Earth and at ground level. It can be good or bad depending on where it is found.
Good Ozone: Occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere of the Earth and is also known as stratospheric ozone. Here, it forms protective shields which protect us from sun's harmful UV radiations. Due to various manmade chemicals it is partially destroyed and causes hole in the ozone.
Bad Ozone: It is ground level ozone which is not directly emitted into the air and is known as Tropospheric ozone. It is generated by the chemical reactions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOC). This happens when the pollutants are emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers; chemical plants etc. and these chemicals react in the presence of sunlight. Do you know that at ground level it is harmful air pollutant because it effects in people and the environment and also is the main ingredient in smog?
In urban areas on hot sunny days ozone reaches to unhealthy levels and can reach high levels during cold weather. Now, you may be thinking that in rural areas this ozone reaches or not? Yes at rural areas also ground level ozone transported by the wind and can experience high ozone levels.
Now let us study from where Ozone comes?
In the atmosphere ozone develops from the gases coming out of smokestacks, tailpipes etc. When these gases come in contact with the sunlight, they react and form smog (ozone).
When nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons that is VOCs react with the sunlight ozone is formed. From power plants, motor vehicles and other high-heat combustion sources, NOx is emitted. And VOx is emitted from motor vehicles, chemical plants, refineries, factories, paint etc. Carbon monoxide is also emitted from motor vehicles. If the ingredients are present under the right conditions, they react to form ozone. In addition, winds can carry ozone far from where it began, even internationally across borders and even the oceans.
From ozone pollution who are at risk?
People suffering from lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also known as COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, outdoor workers, children, older adults etc. are more at risk. Some evidence suggests that other groups including women, people who suffer from obesity and people with low incomes may also face higher risk from ozone. People with certain genetic characteristics and people with reduced intake of certain nutrients such as vitamin C and E are at greater risk from ozone exposure.
Effects on health and environment of ozone
- Breathing ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and airway inflammation.
- Reduced the functioning of lung.
- Ozone worsens bronchitis, emphysema, asthma etc.
- Increases the risk of respiratory infection and susceptibility to pulmonary inflammation (COPD).
- Breathing ozone can shorten your life that is premature death.
- It can cause cardiovascular diseases that is inhaling ozone may affect the heart.
- BAir pollutants present in the air make lungs more responsive to ozone and when you breathe ozone increases your body to respond to other pollutants. For example: a study published in 2009 found that children were more likely to suffer from hay fever and respiratory allergies when ozone and PM2.5 levels were high.
- Continue to damage the lungs even when the symptoms have disappeared.
- Ozone causes harm to vegetation and ecosystems including forests, parks, wildlife refuges etc.
So, now we come to know about ozone and pollution caused by it. Also, what are the harmful effects of ozone on health and environment.
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