Ozone Season – What you can do to help air quality and your health

Warmer weather is upon us in Colorado and with that comes ground-level ozone pollution season. On Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show, we talked with Mike Silverstein, the executive director of the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) about what ground-level ozone is and what impacts it has on our health.

According to the Regional Air Quality Council, ozone season is a period in which concentrations of ground-level ozone – an air pollutant resulting from a chemical reaction between emissions and heat and sunlight – are most likely to reach a level that may be unhealthy for some of us to breathe. The season goes from June through the months of August and into early September.

Ozone pollution can make it more difficult to breathe, cause coughing or a sore throat, inflame and damage airways, aggravate lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and make lungs more susceptible to infection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says those effects have been found in healthy people but can by more serious in children, older adults, people with asthma, and people who are more active outdoors.

Simple Steps. Better Air. from RAQC is a program that, through increased outreach and public awareness about ground-level ozone pollution, aims to create behavior change around air quality issues and urge Coloradans to reduce ozone-causing emissions.

RAQC works with meteorologists at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue “Ozone Action Alerts”. On an alert day, it means that conditions are right for ozone to reach unhealthy levels and citizens are asked to take steps to reduce ozone-causing emissions:

  • Start with fewer car trips (bike, walk, take public transit, pack a lunch, shop online)
  • Combine car trips (establish an errand time or day)
  • Combine passengers on trips (carpool, vanpool)
  • Take public transportation (bus, light rail)
  • Energize your ride (drive an electric vehicle, hybrid or fuel-efficient car)
  • Take steps at home (choose low VOC products, mow in the evening, use electric lawn/garden tools)
  • Challenge yourself (refuel your car in the evening, stop at first click when refueling, keep your car well-maintained)

Find out more and learn additional ways to decrease ozone pollution at https://simplestepsbetterair.org/.