The Problem: Unlike the good, protective ozone layer in the stratosphere, ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that affects all of us. It’s formed when emissions from everyday items combine with other pollutants and “cook” in the heat and sunlight. Sources of such emissions include local industry, gasoline-powered vehicles and lawn equipment, and household paints, stains and solvents. Weather plays a key role in ozone formation. The highest ozone levels are usually recorded in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and the wind is stagnant or light.
At ground level, ozone is a health hazard for everybody, especially the young and elderly. Those who are active and exercising outdoors may experience breathing difficulties and eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may result in reduced resistance to lung infections and colds. Ozone can also trigger attacks and symptoms in individuals with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or other respiratory diseases like chronic bronchitis and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
The Program: Simple Steps. Better Air. (SSBA) – formerly OzoneAware – is a program that, through increased outreach and public awareness about ground-level ozone pollution, aims to create behavior change around air quality issues, and in doing so, motivate more Coloradans to take action in reducing ozone-causing emissions.
Denver and the Front Range’s ozone season runs from June through August. During this time, the RAQC will work with meteorologists at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue “Ozone Action Alerts,” notifying the public when ozone levels could potentially reach unhealthy levels. On Ozone Action Alert days, we are asking citizens to take simple steps to reduce ozone-causing emissions.
- Start with fewer car trips (bike, walk, take public transit, pack a lunch, shop online)
- Combine car trips (establish an errand time or day)
- Combine passengers on trips (carpool, vanpool)
- Take public transportation (bus, lightrail)
- Energize your ride (drive an electric vehicle, hybrid or fuel-efficient car)
- Take steps at home (choose low VOC products, mow in the evening, use electric lawn/garden tools)
- Challenge yourself (refuel car in the evening, stop at first click when refueling, keep your car well-maintained)
Our outreach and educational campaign also includes radio, outdoor and digital advertising, social media outreach, community event sponsorships, stakeholder partnerships and outreach to media and local governments. Find more simple steps to decrease ozone pollution, sign up for ozone alerts, or log your vehicle trips and ozone-cutting actions in our unique tracking system at www.SimpleStepsBetterAir.org.