Air Quality 101


Ground Level Ozone: Ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but forms through reaction of NOx and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.

Elevated ozone levels typically occur during the summer months.


Ozone can…

  • Irritate the respiratory system
  • Reduce lung function
  • Aggravate asthma
  • Aggravate chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis
  • Inflame and temporarily damage the lining of the lung
  • Impair the body’s immune system defenses

Who is sensitive to Ozone?

  • Children
  • Adults who are active in the outdoors
  • People with respiratory diseases
  • People with unusual susceptibility to ozone

What is Ozone?

  • Ozone: “Good up high, bad nearby.”
  • In the stratosphere, ozone occurs naturally and screens out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun
  • Ground-level ozone results from a photochemical reaction of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight
  • At ground-level, ozone is a principal component of smog one of six “criteria pollutants” for which EPA has set NAAQS.

AIR QUALITY 101: Baton Rouge Air Quality and Asthma

In 2006 and 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency provided $50,000 in funding  to the Louisiana Asthma Initiative primarily to examine the relationship between ozone levels in the Baton Rouge area and  emergency room visits related to asthma.

As part of the grant, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality provided data on ozone and particulates  from April 2006  through March 2007 for both East Baton Rouge and Point Coupee Parishes.  Two Baton Rouge emergency room departments provided data for the same duration of time.  Pt. Coupee Parish also agreed  to provide data from their hospital emergency room departments, federally qualified health clinics in the area, and the Parish’s urgent care weekend clinic.

Results of the study showed no direct correlation between ozone or particulate matter readings measured and problems associated with asthma in the emergency departments.

Furthermore, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital’s 2007 report, “Health Risks among Louisiana adults, 2004-2006”, shows greatest prevalence of asthma in the rural parishes of north-central Louisiana.  Also seen in this report is the fact that prevalence of asthma in Louisiana is lower than the U.S. national average.

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