This secondary pollutant can cause bronchial problems, with manifestations such as coughing and difficulty breathing
Hot. Temperatures rise, humidity does not spring. Not sweating is almost impossible. But there is not only the feeling of malaise for those who remain in sultry cities. Above all – but not only – in the area of the Po Valley the ozone "enemy" is returning topical. Industries and traffic pollution can help increase the levels of this substance, which can prove harmful to well-being, especially for the elderly and children, but not only. Obviously the risks go up if the alarm levels are exceeded.
Ozone is a secondary pollutant, that is, not directly produced by discharges. In order for it to form, it is necessary for nitrogen oxide to come into contact with sunlight. When this occurs, this toxic compound is formed, which has nothing to do with the "ozone hole" that is spoken of when discussing solar radiation.
Some people may experience discomfort as soon as the alarm threshold is exceeded, albeit slightly. And already at these levels, gas can begin to cause damage, irritating the bronchi in two ways: the presence of gas tends to restrict the caliber of these natural "roads" of air, as occurs in normal inflammation processes.
Coughing and difficulty breathing may appear in this phase; in the elderly, the picture just described can take on the characteristics of real breathlessness. In addition, ozone makes the bronchi more sensitive to the action of any allergens present in the environment. In general, the effect is linked to the inhaled dose: when the ozone values are around 250 micrograms per cubic meter, the situation becomes extremely alarming.
For those who suffer from asthma and more generally have respiratory problems, dry cough and chest tightness may begin. More generally, however, you feel weak and put up with more effort. The most sensitive to high ozone values are children and the elderly, who adapt with greater difficulty to the "perverse" mixture of gases in the air.
It also has more easily lung disease disorders, such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, who has a "weak" heart or has already had a heart attack. The risks related to high ozone rates are also to be considered for those who do intense physical activity: obviously this increases the respiratory rate and, consequently, the introduction of pollutants into the lungs.
Attention to children
The enemy is in the air. And it cannot be avoided. But it is very useful to limit efforts and staying outside when the highest ozone peak is reached, that is, in the early hours of the afternoon. When the sunlight is greater. In these periods it is better to stay at home, with the windows closed, because the masonry structures "block" the ozone outside.
For those accustomed to jogging in the evening, perhaps it is better to change habits or otherwise limit efforts. The permanence in the sparse green areas of cities unfortunately does not defend against ozone, which spreads everywhere. Better a walk in the morning, when the air has been cleared of the night breeze.
As mentioned, attention must be paid especially to children because for them, especially if they are a bit "fragile" in terms of respiratory infections, prolonged exposure to high ozone rates could affect the body's defensive mechanisms. By studying what happened a few years ago in Los Angeles, the experts compared populations of children who lived in urban areas with children of a similar age who were in the countryside, in non-polluted areas.
The result has been clear. The children who lived in areas with high ozone rates showed higher incidence of infectious respiratory diseases of both viral and bacterial origin. And not only for the irritating action of the gas on the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract: the children who lived in contaminated areas had slight alterations in the immune system, precisely those which have the task of acting as a "barrier" to infections. In short: ozone over time manages to create a "combination" of negative effects that can be truly detrimental to health.