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Ozone, Explained – NBC Boston

An air quality warning is in effect for much of southern New England until 11 p.m. Wednesday evening. The warning was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ahead of elevated ozone levels.

All areas under the EPA’s warning were far western Connecticut, central and eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and higher elevations in Maine’s Acadia National Park.

Locations in New England where air quality is expected to be unhealthy on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
Locations in New England where air quality is expected to be unhealthy on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

When levels are elevated, asthmatics and people with pre-existing lung disease may experience breathing difficulties. It is recommended to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Because of climate change, these types of warnings and days of reduced air quality may become more common — especially for communities of color, pregnant women and older adults, all of whom are already vulnerable and overburdened by unhealthy air.

The good, bad and ugly of ozone

Stratospheric ozone, which most know as the ozone layer, is located 10 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface.

It protects us against too much UV radiation from the sun. This is good ozone. It acts as sunscreen for the world.



There are some basic maintenance tasks you can perform on your home systems to keep the air healthy.

On the other hand, ground-level ozone is harmful. It is a pollutant formed in the lowest levels of the atmosphere by a series of chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, heat and sunlight.

A graph showing the air quality index levels
A graph showing the air quality index levels

This happens more often in the summer due to an increased amount of UV radiation on longer days. Ozone is found in more urban areas due to increased traffic and pollutants.

A graph showing the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, May 22-23, 2024 – a high of 88 degrees on a sunny Wednesday and a high of 84 degrees, with rain chances, Thursday.
A graph showing the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday May 22-23, 2024.