Today as I was driving to work an ozone alert was announced over the radio. This was the first time I’d heard of an ozone alert. It sounded serious because the announcer was encouraging people to carpool or ride public transportation also the variable message sign was flashing warnings of harmful ozone levels. Perhaps it was naïve of me to not know how ozone could be harmful, but I had no clue. I thought that ozone was a good thing because it was one of our earth’s unique features that allowed life to thrive. However ground-level ozone, what it’s referred to when it’s close to earth’s surface is a harmful pollutant
Ground-level ozone is created when specific chemicals interact with nitrogen and sunlight. The chemicals are created by: cars, buses, industry, utility companies, gas stations, print shops, paint stores, cleaners, and off-road equipment like planes, trains and construction and lawn and garden equipment. Dangerous levels of ground-level ozone can cause choking, coughing and stinging eyes. It can damage lung tissue, exacerbate respiratory disease, and could lead to respiratory infections. It is particularly dangerous to children and the elderly but all outdoor activity should be avoided.
CART, the public transportation in Norman, offers free transportation on Ozone Alert days. However, neither Metro Transit or City Link, OKC or Edmond public transportation, offer the same service. Taking advantage of public transportation often is just one way you can help prevent harmful amounts of ozone. Other options include gasing up at night, avoid idling in your vehicle, and avoid gas powered lawn equipment. For more tips visit the Get Square programs website.
Get Square is a really cool program sponsored by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments or ACOG. This clean air campaign encourages individuals to adopt a way of life that would keep their square of air clean.