Ozone high in the Earth's atmosphere protects us from the sun's harmful radiation. But ozone at ground level is air pollution, and is harmful to people and plants. Ozone is formed when air pollution — nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — from vehicles, industry, and other sources react with each another in sunlight and hot temperatures. It is an ingredient of smog.
Ground-level ozone irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system. It's especially bad for those with chronic heart and lung disease (like asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema), children and elderly, as well as pregnant women.
What You Can Do To Reduce and Avoid Ozone Pollution
When pollution rises on hot days:
National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Ozone
In 2015, EPA adopted a more protective ozone standard from 0.075 parts per million (ppm) to 0.070 ppm. Washington submitted to EPA its recommendation about which counties or areas do not meet (are not in attainment or "non-attainment") the new standard. Ecology also submitted a response to comments received during the public comment period. Based on air monitoring data, most of Washington meets the standard. However, Ecology recommends that Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla Counties are listed as unclassified because we have only monitored ozone in the Tri-Cities for one year, instead of three years as required.
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