The Ozone

By: Grace Spriggs

The good and the bad

There's two types of ozone: "good" high altitude ozone and "bad" ground level ozone. The good ozone is where UV rays come through and how the heat index is measured. If it's high, outdoor activity should be limited to prevent sunburn and heat related problems. Bad ozone contributes to air quality and is affected by emissions and pollution firsthand.

What's happening to the "good" ozone?

The "good" ozone, which protects us from harmful UV rays, is being depleted by manmade chemicals. These chemicals are referred to as Ozone Depleting Substances. As those atoms move through the atmosphere they are broken down by UV rays and destroy ozone atoms. In return, this causes more UV rays to be able to reach the Earth which can damage crops and stress marine life. All of this collectively can lead to impaired immune systems, higher risk of skin cancer, and can cause cataracts.

What causes "bad" ozone?

It's caused by chemical reactions b/w oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds when sunlight is present. At the ground level ozone is harmful and is even during the summer due to increased heat and sunlight. Inhaling ozone can cause respiratory issues like chest pain, congestion and throat irritation. It also exacerbates existing issues.

What's being done?

For the good ozone, the U.S. adopted a treaty called the Montreal Protocol which will gradually phase out the production and use of ozone depleting substances. The non-essential use of those products is prohibited. For the bad ozone, the Clean Air Act protective health standards are set for the ozone in the air. Fuels are also being reformulated to reduce harmful emissions.