Ground- level ozone is a harmful air pollutant. It affects everyone, but those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, the very young and the elderly are especially at risk when ozone levels climb.
Ground-level ozone tends to be higher during the summer months. This is because it is formed when other pollutants react chemically in the presence of sunlight and higher temperatures. Ozone can cause breathing difficulties, trigger symptoms associated with respiratory ailments like asthma and emphysema, and reduce one’s resistance to respiratory infections. Fortunately, there are steps each of us can take to reduce the risks and help reduce the ozone in the air we breathe.
- Keep abreast of ozone levels. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues air quality forecasts every day of the year. Visit www.colorado.gov/airquality or call 303-782-0211 for the latest.
- Maintain your vehicle. Automobiles are a primary source of harmful air pollutants. Keeping your vehicle’s maintenance up to date helps keep emissions in check and can help alleviate the problem.
- Reduce your mileage. Walk, take the bus, or ride a bike whenever practical. The less you use your vehicle, the better it is for our air.=
- Do not stay idle. An idling vehicle gets zero miles per gallon, so if you are going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, turn off your engine.
- Refuel in the morning or evening. During cooler times of day, fuel vapors that escape during the refueling process have less of an opportunity to heat up and turn into harmful ground-level ozone.
- Stop when your tank is full. Stop at the first click, and do not “top off” when refueling. This not only will help eliminate fuel vapors from escaping, it also helps prevent problems with your vehicle’s fuel system which can lead to costly repairs. The click is your vehicle’s way of telling you that it is full.
- Avoid household projects in the heat of the day. Painting, staining, and mowing the grass or doing yard work with gasoline-powered equipment all release harmful emissions. Do these tasks on a cloudy day, or in the evening, when the sun will not have an opportunity to heat them up and create more ground-level ozone.
If we all do our part, we can reduce emissions and limit ground-level ozone. This is better for everyone’s health and for our environment. Be aware of the impact your actions have and be responsible, particularly on hot, sunny days.