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Looking at ozone in a chemistry standpoint, it is a gas composed of 3 oxygen atoms and is formed primarily from photochemical reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). The chemical reaction was believed to occur due to heat and sunlight during the summer, but according to the EPA (2016), “Within the last decade, however, high ozone concentrations have also been observed under specific circumstances in cold months, where a few high elevation areas in the Western U.S. with high levels of local VOC and NOx emissions have formed ozone when snow is on the ground and temperatures are near or below freezing” (para. 3).

Due to the chemicals associated with this ozone, it can cause shortness of breath, dry coughs, pain when taking a deep breath, tightness in the chest when breathing, wheezing and nausea. Other effects that have been associated with the exposure to ozone are increases in the amount of people that suffer with small airway obstruction, a decrease in the integrity of the airway epithelium, and a decrease in the phagocytic activity of alveolar macrophages.  It can affect people in different ways. I can personally tell a difference during the hot humid summers in Tennessee with it being harder to breath on extremely hot days with the air feeling thick. My wife however, suffers from more severe affects when the ozone levels are high.

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