Ozone -- What it means to you

By Anthony Yanez, Meteorologist, ayanez@kprc.com
Published On: Apr 25 2012 02:09:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 28 2012 12:09:00 PM CDT
Air Quality Index

Sometimes there are ozone problems, but many people don't know what that means. 

Ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas composed of three oxygen atoms. 

When the weather is expected to be sunny and hot/warm with light winds, we get ozone watches issued for Houston, Galveston and Brazoria counties. Typically, we'll have air pollution problems because elevated concentrations of ozone act as a lung irritant.

Individuals with chronic lung disease, such as asthma and emphysema, as well as the elderly and young children, are particularly sensitive to ozone and should attempt to avoid exposure by minimizing time outside during the midday to early evening hours, or stay indoors in an air-conditioned room.

Keep in mind that most ozone problems are for sensitive groups, not the general public. This is the orange area on the air quality index. The city of Houston will issue air quality warnings when the air quality deteriorates.

Here is what those warnings look like:

Ozone warning example map

If you want to be added to the air quality email list when watches and warnings are issued, visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's website.

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