Getting Ready for Ozone Season
It's icy this week in North Texas, but it'll be back to t-shirts the next! It's hard to believe spring is just around the corner, but that also means it’s time to start thinking about how our clean air habits can help make our impact felt this ozone season. What is ozone season you might ask? Ozone season is the period between March through November when ground-level ozone, a common air pollutant, reaches its highest concentration. Looking to brush up on your air quality lingo? Keep reading to learn more about air quality and ozone in the information shown below!
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a common air pollutant that can be harmful to our health. Ozone forms when volatile organic compounds combine with sunlight and intense heat. For example, pollution can occur when emissions from power plants, vehicles, dry cleaners, and more are exposed to heat.
Why is this important?
Did you know that high levels of ozone can be harmful to your health? On days with high levels, being outside can be dangerous for those with asthma and other respiratory issues. Coughing, irritation of the throat, chest tightening, pain, burning, discomfort, or shortness of breath are all symptoms’ people can experience during days with bad air quality. Therefore, keeping track of the air quality index is important for North Texans.
What is the Air Quality Index?
The air quality index (AQI) is used to report daily air quality levels in the region to help better understand the severity of pollution and related health impacts. The air quality index uses different colors to signal different levels of air quality, with green being normal and low risk, and purple being harmful to your health. Check out more information on the AQI here, and learn about other pollutants here.
Where is the Air Quality Index?
You can check local air quality by heading to airnorthtexas.org and seeing what color our mascot Arlo’s shell is, or you can check here for an air quality map of our region.
How to Help
We can take simple steps to help improve the air quality in our region, and it all starts at home:
Turn off your lights and appliances when you’re not at home or in the room
Make sure the weather-stripping in your house is satisfactory and check for breezy windows and doors
Set your AC at a conservative range and don’t crank it up or down when you get home
Turn off fans or heaters when you’re not in the room; they regulate you, not the room
Switch to energy and water efficient appliances and LED’s if possible
Take care when using appliances during peak hours
Take shorter showers and limit baths
Spend more time outdoors when air quality forecasts allow for it to be done safely
Don’t idle your vehicle in the driveway or in front of your home
Consider composting instead of throwing away compostable materials
Improving regional air quality is also something we can do with our commute, and with these steps it’s simple:
Take public transit to your destination if possible; it reduces traffic, emissions, and the amount of fossil fuels you consume.
Only drive when necessary; if you can make one trip and complete all of your errands, do this rather than making multiple trips.
Take a walk or bike to your next spot as another way to reduce traffic and emissions. It’s also a great way to get fresh air when the air quality index allows for it.
Check to see if your city has any rideshare options like vanpool or a commuter service.
If there’s one thing we know about improving regional air quality here at Air North Texas, it’s that it takes a team effort. Tell your friends to sign up for air quality alerts at airnorthtexas.org/signup so they can learn all about air quality too!