How North Texas Ozone Season can Affect your Health
The ozone season in North Texas runs from March 1 through the end of October. However, the height of the season typically occurs in May, when temperatures begin rising. The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) maintains policies and programs intended to help residents and businesses participate in clean air efforts.
One of those is Air North Texas, which provides individuals, local governments and businesses lists of strategies they can implement when air quality is forecast to be poor. It implements a regional clean air event, Clean Air Action Day, which this year will fall on June 23, and participants are asked to implement a clean air action that will help reduce ozone in the region.
Ozone is a gas formed in the atmosphere when three atoms of oxygen combine. Naturally occurring ozone is found high in the stratosphere and in ground-level air. It is formed and functions differently at each level.
Stratospheric Ozone forms high in the atmosphere when intense sunlight causes oxygen molecules to break up and reform as ozone molecules "Good ozone" shields us from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. From the sun. Ground-level “bad ozone” forms when emission sources such as transportation, industrial and commercial operations, and vegetation emit oxides of nitrogen or volatile organic compounds which react in the presence of sunlight to create ozone. Efforts to improve air quality focus on reducing sources of ozone precursor pollutants like nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.
Breathing ozone can trigger chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, reduce lung function and inflame the lining of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue. People with lung disease, children, older adults and those that are active outdoors may be particularly sensitive to ozone. High ground-level ozone concentrations also pose a risk to the environment, wildlife and agriculture.
Ozone forecasts are made daily by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality meteorologists during the ozone-forecast season. A scale designed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for reporting daily air quality indicates how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern as a result.
NCTCOG is responsible for stewarding air quality initiatives in North Texas. While the primary air quality goal is to reach the federal ozone standards , many of these efforts also help reduce emissions of particulate matter and greenhouse gases, thus supporting efforts to improve air quality comprehensively.
Air quality programs administered by NCTCOG include Dallas-Fort worth Clean Cities, Electric Vehicles North Texas, Engine Off Texas, Aircheck Texas Vehicle Repair or Replacement program, SmartWay, Clean Fleet Policy, Go Solar Texas, Regional Emissions Enforcement Program, Car Care Clinics, Transit-Oriented Development and the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program.
NCTCOG was established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. North Central Texas is a 16-county region with a population of 6.5 million and an area of approximately 12,800 square miles