Region 7 Air Program
Serving Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and 9 Tribal Nations
Ozone Action Days
A Special Alert for People with Asthma and Other Respiratory ProblemsWhat's Wrong with the Air?
We hear a lot about depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. This kind of ozone protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Stratospheric ozone is good, but ground-level ozone is harmful. When people think of ground-level ozone, they usually picture a thick layer of smog over Los Angeles. They don't usually think of a Midwest summer day--hazy blue sky, sunny, and hot. But people who live in the cities along the southern and western shores of Lake Michigan (Milwaukee, Chicago, and Gary) are affected by a severe air pollution problem--ozone. It affects outlying suburbs and rural areas as well as the big cities.
"Ozone Action Days" will be called when weather forecasters predict days that are conducive to ozone formation. The area's industries and individual residents will be asked to voluntarily reduce emissions that cause ozone pollution. Although ozone cannot be seen or tasted it can irritate lungs and make breathing difficult. The urban haze that we call smog contains pollutants that react to form ozone.
Most of the pollutants that form ozone come from cars. Large factories account for another portion of the emissions. Small businesses such as printing plants, service stations, and auto body shops, and people using lawnmowers, paints, and cleaning solvents account for another portion of the emissions.
Ozone pollution is of particular concern to the more than 500,000 people with asthma and other respiratory problems in the Lake Michigan area, because when it is breathed into the lungs, ozone reacts with lung tissue. It can harm breathing passages, making it more difficult for the lungs to work. It also can cause eye and throat irritation and cause a greater susceptibility to infection.
Ozone Health Facts
State agencies will use television and radio to notify citizens of ozone alerts. On days when your State or local air pollution control agency calls an "Ozone Action Day":
Contact your State air pollution control agency or the U.S. EPA U. S. Environmental Protection Agency at (800) 621-8431