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Help fight ozone this summer!

Here’s a news flash: It’s going to be another hot one this week. Temperatures across much of Missouri are staying in the middle and upper 90s, occasionally crawling to the triple-digit mark.

There’ s not much that can be done to control this heat wave, but there are some things that can be done to control an environmental and health concern that often accompanies the hot days of summer: ground-level ozone.

Ground-level ozone – commonly known as smog – is a gas created when pollution from vehicles, businesses and power plants combine in the presence of sunlight. Typically, ozone pollution is more of a problem during hot summer months because sunlight and warm temperatures speed up the formation of ground-level ozone.

Exposure to ground-level ozone contributes to health and environmental problems. Healthy adults can experience problems breathing, especially those who exercise or work outdoors. Children are at increased risk from exposure to ground-level ozone because their lungs are still developing. Ground-level ozone can also damage trees and agricultural crops.

Simple everyday steps can help reduce the emission of harmful ozone-causing pollutants:

  • Keep vehicle tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires increase gasoline consumption.
  • Use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.
  • Stop at the first click when filling up gas tanks. Overfilling can lead to gasoline spills, which allows harmful ozone-causing vapors to escape into the atmosphere.
  • Don’t use gas-powered lawn equipment on hot, sunny days with little or no wind. Consider waiting until early evening to mow your lawn.
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances when leaving a room to reduce emissions from power plants.

Ozone monitoring data for ozone season, which began April 1 and runs through Oct. 31, is available from the Missouri Air Quality Data System Web page. For more information on ozone, visit the department’s Ozone Web page  and read the article on Ozone in the latest Missouri Resources’ magazine. 

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