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Ozone Information


Air Quality Rating Air Quality Index (AQI) 8-hour Ozone Concentration (ppb)
















Rating Adverse Health Effects Ways to Protect Your Health
Good None expected No precautions necessary
Moderate Ozone levels in this range may cause respiratory problems in some children and adults engaged in outdoor activities. These effects are of particular concern for those with existing lung problems. People with respiratory diseases such as asthma and other sensitive individuals should consider limiting outdoor exercise and strenuous activities during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest.
Unhealthy As ozone levels increase, both the severity of the health effects and the number of people affected increase.

Health effects commonly include: coughing; eye, nose, and throat irritation; chest pain; decreased lung function; shortness of breath; increased susceptibility to respiratory infection; aggravation of asthma; and other respiratory ailments.

It is important to be aware that individuals react differently when exposed to various ozone levels in the unhealthy range; some people experience problems at lower unhealthy levels, while others may not be affected until higher levels are reached. However, certain groups are particularly sensitive to ozone in the unhealthy range, including:
  • Children, because they are small, active, and growing;
  • Outdoor workers and outdoor exercisers; and
  • People with respiratory diseases.
In general, everyone should limit strenuous outdoor activity during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are usually highest.

If you find that you are particularly sensitive to ozone, or if you have asthma or other respiratory problems, stay in an area where it's cool and, if possible, where it's air-conditioned.

If you want to take action to minimize exposure to unhealthy ozone levels, you should consider scheduling outdoor exercise and children's outdoor activities in the morning hours, when ozone levels are generally lower.

As ozone levels increase, individuals who experience respiratory problems may wish to consult their doctors.

At the highest levels - an AQI between 201 and 300, everyone should avoid being outdoors.
Very Unhealthy

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a colorless gas that can be found throughout the earth's atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere, ozone exists naturally where it shields the earth from the sun's ultraviolet rays. At ground-level, however,ozone is formed as a result of chemical reactions caused by the presence of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The primary sources of VOCs and nitrogen oxides are automobile and industrial emissions. These compounds react with oxygen in the air in the presence of heat and strong sunlight to produce ground-level ozone, the primary ingredient of smog. Besides being a hazard to human health, ozone is damaging to forests and vegetation and can cause degradation of materials such as rubber and paint.

What Can You Do To Help Reduce Ozone Pollution?

Everyone can help reduce the formation of ground-level ozone in order to achieve and maintain cleaner air for Rhode Island! Here are some things you can do to reduce emissions of smog-producing chemicals during your daily activities:

  • Keep your automobile well tuned and maintained. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on routine maintenance, such as changing the oil and filters, and checking tire pressure and wheel alignment.
  • Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling up your car or gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Limit driving by car pooling, consolidating trips, using public transportation, biking and walking.
  • Participate in your local utility's energy conservation programs.
  • Use water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that say "low VOC".
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent VOCs from evaporating into the air.
  • Limit barbecue emissions. Use and electric starter instead of lighter fluid to start charcoal fires, or use an electric, natural gas, or propane grill.
  • Minimize your lawnmower emissions. Tune-up your lawn mower and use electric or hand-powered equipment if possible.

This information was provided by the:
Department of Environmental Management
Office of Air Resources
235 Promenade Street, Room 230, Providence, RI 02908

For further information, contact Darren Austin at 401-222-2808 x2777430.