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Thanks to new Federal government initiatives giving the public greater access to government services, everyone can breathe a little easier.

Ozone can aggravate asthma and other breathing problems, cause headaches and nausea, and irritate eyes. Children, the elderly, people with respiratory problems, and people who exercise outdoors are particularly vulnerable to ozone-related discomforts. But, high ozone levels can even affect healthy people.

Pollution controls on cars and industrial sources are reducing harmful levels of ozone nationwide. But, levels still vary from place to place because of factors like geography and the concentration of local pollution sources. Even in one place, ozone levels fluctuate over short-term periods because of variables like wind and temperature. Of course, ozone levels usually peak everywhere at mid-day and are especially high during the summer because sunlight encourages ozone formation.

If you are particularly vulnerable to ozone, you need accurate, up-to-date information to help you make important decisions about your outdoor activity levels. So, how can you tell what the ozone level is in your area?

Checking Short-Term Ozone Levels

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the answer. A new EPA customer service is available to give you current information about ozone levels today and tomorrow in your area. Just visit the EPA’s new Internet site. This site provides real-time, accurate, and easy-to-understand information, including:

Maps showing current and forecasted air pollution levels in selected cities and states

Recommended health precautions (when warranted) for sensitive and non-sensitive populations, based upon the most recent scientific information

General explanations of the health effects related to air pollution

This evolving Internet site provides information about ozone. It eventually will cover all 50 states and offer tips for protecting your health and reducing ground-level ozone air pollution.

You can also get information on current and predicted air pollution levels in selected cities and states on the Weather Channel’s Internet site.

Checking Long-Term Changes

If you’re looking for long term information, you can check levels of individual pollutants and their changes over time by city, county, or state by visiting the EPA Internet site. This informative site is updated monthly and can answer many questions, including:

What was the most common air pollutant measured in my county last month?

Have ambient air measurements increased, decreased, or remained unchanged over the past five years?

Are there major sources of air pollution in my county?

For more information and real-time data on environmental topics, visit the EPA’s Internet site, or call Chet Wayland, Group Leader at EPA’s Information Transfer Group, at (919) 541-4603.

(For technical information or user support from EPA, call (800) 367-1044 or (800) 334-2405.)


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