Take a breath

Washoe County Health District released recommendations for addressing “ozone season,” in which heat and vehicle emissions create high levels of ozone. The release states, “Ground-level ozone forms when VOCs [volatile organic compounds] and nitrogen oxides (NOx) mix in the air then react chemically in the presence of sunlight.” Ozone can “irritate the respiratory system … inflame the lining of the lungs and reduce lung function.” Asthmatics and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are especially affected by the elevated ozone levels in the summer.

The health district recommends reducing the need to drive gas vehicles during the day, as well as “powered lawn equipment, solvents, and charcoal lighter fluid on days in which the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Ozone reaches the upper moderate range, or higher.” The AQI is shared by local media outlets, and can also be found by calling 785-4110. More information about WCHD’s Air Quality Management Division can be found at www.washoecounty.us/health/aqm/home.html.

Ozone has a negative impact on human bodies, but it also ravages ecosystems. In California, the ozone level from the Los Angeles smog is harming the Sequoia National Park forest, putting the ancient trees at risk for drought and pests. The park is one of 52 parks—along with the Joshua Tree National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina—constantly monitored for ozone levels. According to Sci-Tech-Today, Sequoia and neighboring park Kings Canyon are at the highest risk.