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Air Quality Gets Worse as Temperatures Rise

Heat itself is one of the leading weather-related killers, and it’s also a significant contributing factor in creating ground-level ozone, which is a serious health hazard.

In the upper atmosphere, ozone is a good thing. It shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun (that’s why the so-called “ozone hole” over Antarctica is cause for concern). Close to the ground, however, ozone contributes to an increased incidence of lung inflammation, asthma attacks, and other respiratory problems, particularly in children and young adults. For that reason, Climate Central's new Urban Heat Island report also looks at the relationship between heat and ozone levels.

You will see that as temperatures go up, ground-level ozone goes up, making for poorer air quality. A lot of factors influence ground ozone but sunlight, heat, and air pollution are three of the biggest. As temperatures continue to rise, it’s going to make it more difficult to meet ozone standards.