Ozone production depends largely on sunlight reacting with air containing hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide pollutants. These reactions form ozone gas. Ozone is also produced by the reaction of ultraviolet radiation with oxygen in the upper reaches of the atmosphere from about 6 miles high to 30 miles high (called the ozone layer).
Ozone in the upper atmosphere serves to absorb ultraviolet radiation which might otherwise be harmful to life on earth.
In the lower atmosphere, the presence of ozone can produce harmful reactions as to human breathing, plant growth, and enhanced oxidation reactions with various other materials, particularly with polymers such as natural and synthetic rubbers that do not contain added antiozonants.
The reason that it is good to know some things about how ozone is formed close to the ground and high up in the atmosphere, is because it is a gas with the personality of a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. It is a helper to humankind when in the ozone layer, and it can produce great harm close to the ground.
With those things in mind, here is a look at today’s report of air quality in Harris County by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for today, April 20, 2010 through Friday, April 23, 2010:
Tuesday, 4/20/2010 – If our friend, the sun, gets to beaming down on us in a friendly manner, and if the winds are light enough to allow pollution to linger, ozone concentration can reach moderate levels in the south and southwest sides of the Houston area in the afternoon and early evening hours. Sensitive individuals should take adequate precautions. Elsewhere, air quality should remain in the good range.
Wednesday, 4/21/2010 – Once again, ozone levels could get to the moderate level in parts of southeast Texas in the afternoon and early evening, with the highest concentration predicted to be on the north and northeast side of Houston. Again, air quality elsewhere should be good.
Thursday, 4/22/2010 – Air quality should be good in Harris County and in most of the state. In the El Paso area there is predicted to be lots of wind and blowing dust. In that area the particulate level will thus be in the moderate range.
Friday, 4/23/2010 – Here comes that smoke from agricultural burning in Mexico and Central America. It will move northward across the southern parts of Texas in the morning so as to raise the fine particulates level into the moderate range. Otherwise, the Harris County air quality should stay in the good range.