Recent reports about ozone levels are something everyone should pay attention to, particularly those with asthma or another lung disease. There have been two that are particularly alarming. The first is the fact that ozone levels have increased. The second is a projection that it’s just going to get worse. Here is why this is of concern:
What is asthma? Asthma is a constriction of the airways caused by triggers. This constriction makes breathing very difficult and can be deadly. Not all asthma patients have the same triggers but ozone is a universal one. Weather is also a common trigger.
How does weather affect asthma? Cold, dry air and humid hot air are both likely to cause an asthma attack. With the hot air, there is also a good chance that ozone levels will be high. This gives it a double whammy.
What is ozone? This can be confusing. We’ve all heard about the ozone layer and how it protects us from the sun. How could it be bad? Where does the bad ozone come from?
Ozone is a combination of chemicals that are released into the air. They come from a number of things from the car in your driveway to the plant making electricity. Ozone at ground level makes it hard for healthy people to breathe. Anyone with a breathing disorder is going to be worse off.
Is climate change going to play a role? Scientists believe so. Whether it’s human made or natural, there is strong evidence that the climate is changing. Areas in the U.S. Southwest and some of the Midwest, temperatures are getting warmer earlier. They also believe that the number of people with asthma will increase.
What can we do? That’s a tricky question. On the one hand, we all need to conserve energy. On the other hand, asthma patients need to use air filters and air conditioners in order to cope. We all should walk more, but an asthma patient walking in a Stage 3 smog alert is going to wind up in the hospital.
There could be political answers, but the parties involved are so busy arguing about it, that may not happen in time. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This isn’t a speech by Ralph Nader. This is happening now and we, the people, need to say something…to both sides of the aisle. Otherwise a lot of people are going to suffer and let me tell you, asthma is a very frightening disease.