COLUMBIA, SC – Ozone season begins April 1, marking the start of daily forecasts for ground-level ozone from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
High concentrations of ozone can create breathing problems, especially for children, people with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ozone can also cause tree and crop damage.
The most significant things to cause ground-level ozone to form are oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and UV radiation from sunlight. High ozone concentrations generally occur on hot, sunny days when the air is stagnant. Mobile sources of air pollution, such as cars, trucks, and lawn equipment, contribute to more than half of South Carolina’s ozone levels.
“Clean air helps us live healthier lives. DHEC provides ozone forecasts to help the public make healthy decisions about outdoor activities,” said Rhonda Thompson, chief of the DHEC Bureau of Air Quality. “If ozone levels are forecast to reach unhealthy levels, we will declare an ‘ozone action day’ advising people to reduce their activity levels outdoors – especially those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma.”
- Visit DHEC’s website – www.scdhec.gov/ozone.
- Sign up for daily forecast emails, texts or tweets using EPA’s free EnviroFlash service at www.enviroflash.info.
“Having the daily forecast informs people about air quality and lets them know when to reduce activities outside, but there are also things we can all do to reduce air pollution,” Thompson said.
- Try to drive less by carpooling, walking or riding your bike, or using alternative transportation.
- Reduce idling. Turn off your engine if you expect to be stopped for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic).
- Keep to the speed limit. It saves gas and reduces emissions.
- Keep your vehicle tuned up and your tires properly inflated. Both help save gasoline and improve air quality, as well as make your car safer.
For more information about ground-level ozone pollution, ways to help reduce it, and how to avoid potential health impacts, visit www.scdhec.gov/ozone.