Ozone is good up high, but bad nearby. High concentrations of ground-level ozone can create breathing problems, especially for children, people with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ozone can also cause tree and crop damage.
The Ozone Forecasting Season runs from March 31 through September 30.
The most significant things to cause ground-level ozone to form are oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and UV radiation from sunlight. High ozone concentrations generally occur on hot, sunny days when the air is stagnant. Mobile sources of air pollution, such as cars, trucks, and lawn equipment, contribute to more than half of South Carolina's ozone levels.
Clean air helps us live healthier lives. DHEC monitors ozone levels from March 31 to September 30 each year and provides ozone forecasts to help the public make healthy decisions about outdoor activities. If ozone levels are forecast to reach unhealthy levels, DHEC will declare an 'ozone action day' advising people to reduce their activity levels outdoors - especially those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma.
Ways to get the South Carolina ozone forecast:
- Visit DHEC's forecast page
- Sign up for daily forecast emails, texts or tweets using EPA's free EnviroFlash service at www.enviroflash.info.
Other Ozone Forecasts
Don't live in South Carolina? Here are some useful links to find the ozone forecast in other areas:
Ways to help reduce ozone pollution:
- Try to drive less by carpooling, walking or riding your bike, or using alternative transportation.
- Reduce idling - turn off your engine if you expect to be stopped for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic).
- Keep to the speed limit. It saves gas and reduces emissions.
- Keep your vehicle tuned up and your tires properly inflated. Both help save gasoline and improve air quality, as well as make your car safer.
- Learn more
What can I do to avoid exposure?
There are safe ways to limit your exposure to ozone without reducing healthy physical activity.
- Sign up for our ozone forecast so you can plan outdoor work or exercise during your day to avoid possible high levels of ozone.
- Use these recommendations for schools and outdoor activities to modify plans for outdoor activities such as recess, lunch, and physical education class.
- If you're involved in an activity that requires heavy exertion, you can reduce the time you spend on this activity or substitute another activity that requires more moderate exertion(e.g., go for a walk rather than a jog).
- No matter how fit you are, cutting back on the level or duration of exertion when ozone levels are high will help protect you from ozone's harmful effects.
- Plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in the morning or evening.