Ozone Pollution and Your Health

By Elizabeth Dieck

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One of the most common air pollutants in the U.S. is ozone, or smog. You may know that air pollution is a concern for people with heart or lung disease, but other groups can also be at risk, such as children and teenagers, older adults (men over 45 and women over 55) and people who are physically active outdoors.

In South Carolina, a daily ozone forecast is issued from April through September. You can use the forecast to help plan your outdoor activities. Let’s say that ozone air quality where you live is forecast to be code orange tomorrow. There’s a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of ozone you breathe. For instance, if you’re a runner – even if you’re healthy – ozone in the air can be harmful to you. Reduce the amount of ozone you breathe by planning your run for the morning (when ozone levels generally are lower), shortening your run, walking instead or running on a treadmill indoors (where ozone levels are lower). For gardeners, you can do less-strenuous chores, like light raking or pruning. You can also take more frequent breaks – resting reduces your exposure.

Stay alert this summer. Find your ozone forecast at AirNow, or receive daily forecast emails through EnviroFlash. A free AirNow app for iPhone or Android is also available. To access South Carolina forecasts by phone, call 1(866) 238-4973.

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