By Mary Pat Baldauf
Ozone season in South Carolina begins in April, and now’s the time to start following the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s daily forecasts for ground-level ozone. 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. Here are some things to keep in mind during ozone season, which lasts through September 30:
Ground-level ozone affects everybody. At ground level, ozone is a health hazard for all of us, especially the young and elderly. Those who are active and exercising outdoors may experience breathing difficulties and eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may result in reduced resistance to lung infections and colds. Ozone can also trigger attacks and symptoms in individuals with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or other respiratory infections like chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Stay alert. The highest ozone levels are typically found on days that reach the high 80s and 90s and when the wind is stagnant or light. Stay tuned to your local meteorologists, as they will be notifying the public of Ozone Action Alert days when ozone levels are forecasted to reach unhealthy levels.
Know how to limit exposure without reducing healthy physical activity.
- No matter how fit you are, cutting back on the level or duration of exertion when ozone levels are high will help protect you from ozone’s harmful effects.
- Plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in the morning or evening.
- Sign up for the ozone forecast so you can plan outdoor work or exercise during your day to avoid possible high levels of ozone.
- Use these recommendations for schools and outdoor activities to modify plans for outdoor activities such as recess, lunch, and physical education class.
- If you’re involved in an activity that requires heavy exertion, you can reduce the time you spend on this activity or substitute another activity that requires more moderate exertion (e.g., go for a walk rather than a jog).
Don’t just breathe, do something. There are simple, easy steps you can take to reduce harmful emissions during ozone pollution season. Be a clean air warrior by:
- Driving less by carpooling, walking or riding your bike or using alternative transportation.
- Reducing idling – turn off your engine if you expect to be stopped for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic).
- Observing the speed limit. It saves gas and reduces emissions, and may even save you a costly ticket.
- Keeping 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 information on other ways you can make a difference, visit click Clean Air Midlands.