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In the troposphere, the air closest to the Earth's surface, ground-level or "bad" ozone is a pollutant that is a significant health risk, especially for children with asthma . It also damages crops, trees, and other vegetation. It is a main ingredient of urban smog.
Motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents as well as natural sources emit NOx and VOC that help form ozone. Ground-level ozone is the primary constituent of smog. Sunlight and hot weather cause ground-level ozone to form in harmful concentrations in the air. As a result, it is known as a summertime air pollutant.
Weather plays a key role in ozone formation. The highest ozone levels are usually recorded in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and when the wind is stagnant or light.
High levels of ozone pollution often affect healthy people who work or exercise outdoors and can cause breathing difficulties, eye irritation, and reduced resistance to lung infections and colds with exposure for prolonged periods. It can worsen pre-existing health conditions for many individuals with various respiratory illnesses.
The Mid-South Clean Air Coalition is an open gathering of public and private organizations working collectively to improve local air quality. The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department Air Pollution Section and state and federal agencies work in concert with the coalition to focus on two primary areas: compliance and public outreach.
The Mid-South Clean Air Coalition is asking citizens to take care of their summer air by making voluntary changes in behavior to ensure that Shelby and Crittenden County have clean air and meet federal air quality standards.
Ozone season runs from April through September. During this time, the Mid-South Clean Air Coalition will work with meteorologists at the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department to issue Ozone Action Alerts, notifying the public when ozone levels could potentially reach unhealthy levels. During an ozone action alert, you can make a special effort in taking some simple actions including: