Sunny and sticky days will surely make you sweat, but they can also hamper breathing–especially for children and seniors.
Ozone is a dangerous gas created by a combination of pollutants from cars, industrial sites and the summer’s intense heat. The ground-level ozone increases on sunny days when the temperatures rise dramatically. Don’t confuse this with the protective atmospheric layer of ozone that shields the planet from the sun’s harmful rays.
Those who are susceptible to breathing problems include children who spend long hours outdoors or adults who work or exercise outdoors, and anyone with respiratory problems. When exposed to elevated ozone levels, they can experience the following symptoms:
- Cough or throat irritation
- Uncomfortable sensation in the chest
- Inability to breathe deeply
You can protect yourself by monitoring news reports on air quality and heeding some advice on high-ozone days:
- Stay indoors
- Avoid extended time outdoors between late morning and late afternoon
- Limit rigorous outdoor activity
If you experience difficulty breathing, go inside and try to relax. If problems persist, seek medical attention immediately.
Mark Frampton, M.D., is professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at the University of Rochester Medical Center. In addition to caring for patients, he researches the health effects of air pollution. He directs URMC’s National Institutes of Health-funded training program in pulmonary research.