The Effects of OzoneWhat is Ozone? - O3
  • A gas made of Oxygen, that is dangerous or helpful depending on where it is in the atmosphere.
Vespr ozone.jpgOzone is dangerous when it is at ground level.
  • People are exposed when they breathe in air containing ozone.
  • This depends on the concentration of ozone in the air and the amount of air a person breathes in a certain amount of time.

Harmful ozone is not naturally created. It is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.
nox_vox.jpgnox_vox-1.jpg GroundOzoneFormation.jpg

What problems does this man-made ozone cause?It can reduce lung function, cause the inflammation of airways and the lining of the lungs, and causes several other respiratory symptoms. Inflammation is caused when ozone reacts with molecules in the body. The chemical bonds reform differently with oxygen (Oxidation). This makes it difficult for an airway to be a protective barrier against microbes, toxic chemicals and allergens. The airway will respond by covering affected areas with fluid that makes breathing hard. Ozone also can increase the risk of premature mortality. When inhaled ozone can also affect people with asthma, or cause other respiratory illnesses (pneumonia, bronchitis). Damage caused from ozone often doesn't show many noticeable signs, and some symptoms disappear even if a person is still affected.Children are most likely affected more than adults, especially since their respiratory defenses are not as strong as an adults.


The American Lung Association in 2001 estimated that the number of deaths from air pollution range from 50,000 to 100,000.
Ozone is only slightly soluble in water. This means that the respiratory tract cannot get rid of it as well as other compounds that are more soluble in water. This is why most ozone can reach the lower respiratory tract and dissolves in fluid around the lungs. From there if a person has only been affected for a short time it is reversible. Not all of the effects of ozone are understood, and some people are more effected by ozone than others. Some of this can be due to differences in mass or ages. People ranging from teens to thirties are usually more affected than those ranging from fifties to eighties.
Scientists are currently researching long term effects of ozone. Based on lab tests, exposure to ozone might lead to chronic respiratory diseases or asthma.

Some Ozone can also be helpful:
This ozone occurs in the stratosphere, and protects the Earth from the sun's ultraviolet rays. However, this ozone is being depleted by man-made chemicals such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). When these substances reach the stratosphere they are broken down by ultraviolet rays and can release molecules that will destroy ozone, such as chlorine and bromine. This can cause more cases of skin cancer, impaired immune systems and loss of vision. Since 1990, the risk of developing melanoma, a skin cancer, has more than doubled.

Here is a video that explains "bad" ozone and "good" ozone

How are these problems being solved?
Programs are being put into place to reduce emissions from vehicles, industrial facilities, and electric utilities. The Montreal Protocol was designed to reduce ozone depleting substances. Warning labels must now be placed on all products that contain ozone-harming substances, and substitutes for these products are being created. To help deal with the ground level ozone the Clear Air Act was created, which sets standards for ozone in air that people breathe. Different places have different ways of following these standards.

Cailey C.- I was curious if the "helpful" and "harmful" ozone are the same. If so if there any way to convert or transport the poluting ozone into the atmosphere. also if ozone is man made how could scientist help replace the "brocken" ozone layer?
  • Nicholas T. Both good and bad ozone are O3. However, scientist cannot simply add more ozone to the stratosphere. Ozone is heavier than a lot of the chemicals found in the air. Ozone created in the stratosphere is held up there and does not sink due to the differences in pressure and temperature. Although it is very easy to create ozone, which is exactly what happens when we make "bad" ozone, scientists would have to haul it all the way up which would be very costly. However, scientist do not need to do much since CFCs, the leading ozone destroyer, has been banned and the ozone layer is slowly stabilizing.
Shelby W. - To add on to Nick's answer, it would be very hard for scientists to produce enough ozone to heal the hole. If you pour more ozone into the atmosphere the destruction process will speed up until the amount of ozone is stable. This is due to pressure. Another problem is that the sun is able to produce very large amounts of energy for the creation of more ozone. It is almost impossible for humans to produce enough ozone fast enough. According to the EDA to create that amount of ozone we would have to double the U.S.'s annual electricity production. Just as Nick said, the best way to help heal the ozone layer is for countries to ban the use of CFCs. This way eventually the chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere will combine with other things and fall to the earth. If all the laws are followed the ozone hole could heal by 2050, although more recently NASA has stated that the ozone hole might not heal until 2070.

Alyssa - Above you talk about ways that scientists are trying to come up with to help reduce to harmful ozone, and in your graph above it shows that cars are a major part of the pollution. So when people say reduce reuse recycle and go green is that actually helping the harmful ozone decrease? Also, when people have cars that don't use gas and are pulled it, does it actually help lower the harmful ozone?

Shelby W.- Recycling can help a bit with pollution. It takes less energy to produce items from recycled materials, than from new materials. By saving energy it is possible to reduce pollution, including greenhouse gases. As far as cars go, hybrid cars still use gasoline, but are helped by electricity, while electric cars can run completely on electricity. Electric cars actually have more impact than gas run cars when they are being built, but they a lot less impact when being used. Based on some studies hybrid cars can actually help more than electric cars. Electric cars can also be worse for the environment in other areas such as acid rain and algae blooms.

Angelique S.- Let's say that reading the discussion on the ozone has sparked my interest, What job opportunities are there to help the ozone, or at least study it? And what college coarses would you need to take to prepare.