Ozone is a molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms that exists as an invisible gas. Ozone in the Earth’s upper atmosphere protects us from harmful solar radiation; however, ground-level ozone is an air pollutant that damages the respiratory system.
Repeated exposure to ozone can permanently scar your lung tissue and lead to asthma. Ozone inflames the lungs and makes them more responsive to allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mite allergen.
Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOXs) react with sunlight and heat. Most ozone formation can be attributed to emissions from industrial processes and motor vehicles. Residents of smoggy cities like Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Houston, and Atlanta experience more ozone-related health problems.
Ozone exposure is most dangerous to the young, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases like asthma. Ozone levels are highest in the afternoon during hot months of summer. Watch for local smog alerts, and try to avoid prolonged outdoor activity when a smog alert is issued. If you must spend time outdoors, limit strenuous activity to mornings and afternoons.
Many so-called “air purifiers” actually produce ozone. According to Consumer Reports, these insidious machines, known as ozone generators or ionic air cleaners, are not effective for improving indoor air quality. On top of that, they can diminish lung function, trigger asthma attacks, and increase the lung’s vulnerability to allergens and other irritants. They may be the cheapest air cleaners on the market, but the American Lung Association does not suggest the use of these products. Avoid ozone generators and ionic air cleaners, especially if you have allergies, asthma, or any other respiratory condition.
If you suffer from a respiratory condition, choose from safe, effective, doctor-recommended air purifiers with HEPA filters. If you have asthma, select an Asthma Air Purifier with a multiple-stage filtration process.