Hot weather could increase unhealthy smog in some areas

Hot weather expected throughout Washington this weekend could increase levels of ozone, the major ingredient of smog.

Weather forecasts call for high temperatures in the 80s and 90s throughout the state for the next few days. Sunny, hot weather combines with vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and other air pollutants to produce higher levels of ozone.

There are two kinds of ozone. “Good” ozone forms naturally about 10 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface. It helps protect life on Earth from the sun’s harmful rays. But ozone at ground level can be harmful – it’s the main ingredient of smog and can cause health problems.

This Ecology video provides more information about how ozone forms. Winds often carry ozone-forming pollutants away from their urban sources, out to rural areas.

Unhealthy ozone levels can affect everyone, but they especially pose risks for people with lung and heart disease, children, older adults, and people who are active. When ozone levels are elevated, people should limit activities and the time they spend outdoors.


Breathing ozone can:

Trigger airway irritation, coughing and pain when taking a deep breath.

Cause wheezing and breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities.

Inflame lung tissue.

Aggravate asthma.

Increase risk of respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Permanently scar lung tissue after repeated exposures.


You  reduce smog formation in your community when you:

Drive less. Combine errands or use public transportation.

Postpone travel until cooler evening hours, if possible.

Don’t use lawnmowers or other small engines that emit air pollutants.

Observe bans on outdoor burning.

Don’t idle your engine. Turn it off while your vehicle is parked or waiting in line.

Don’t paint or use aerosol sprays until temperatures cool off.


You can monitor the air quality in your area by using Ecology’s Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) website.


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