Summer Ozone Season: Why Is Ozone Worse in Hot Weather?

While you probably know that ozone exposure has several negative health implications, you may not realize that ozone levels are worse at some times of the year than others. Specifically, ozone levels are worst when the weather gets warm in the summertime. Since summer is just around the corner, we thought this would be a great time to explore why summer ozone season happens and how you can keep yourself safe.


Why Is There More Ozone in the Summer?


There’s always some ground level ozone floating around. With that said, the levels of this dangerous gas rise significantly as the weather warms. The reason for this is that ground level ozone is produced by chemical reactions powered by sunlight. Compounds found in vehicle and industrial air pollution, when exposed to sunlight and hot temperatures, can react to form ozone. The combination of more direct sunlight and longer daylight hours creates the summer ozone season. Since more people travel in the summer, there is also more vehicle exhaust in the air. As a result, the compounds that react to form ozone become more available.


How Can You Protect Yourself During Summer Ozone Season?


Because most ground level ozone is found outdoors, there are limits to how much you can do to protect yourself. One very useful step you can take, though, is to limit your time outdoors on especially clear days. If there’s a bit of cloud cover, the ozone levels won’t be quite as high due to limited sunlight. Ozone also tends to be a bit lower in the evenings, though this can change if the night is especially hot or very still.


Inside your house, though, you can exert a bit more control. Start by using your central air system to circulate air in your home, rather than opening the windows. By doing this, you’ll limit the amount of ozone you’re bringing in from outside. You should also consider using a high-quality air purifier with an activated carbon filter during summer ozone season. Studies have shown that activated carbon filters can be highly effective for removing ozone, although their effectiveness does decrease with time.


While summer ozone season is a serious problem, a few simple precautions can help you avoid the worst of it. The more you can limit your exposure to ground level ozone, the less risk of serious health consequences associated with it you’ll have.