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Clean Air NJ
Health and Environmental Effects of Ground-Level Ozone

Smog is harmful to our health and the environment.  Ozone damages lung tissue and reduces the lung’s ability to work properly.  As the air enters the lungs, ozone irritates the lining of the lungs’ passageways.  The resulting swelling in the lungs makes it more difficult to breathe, in addition to causing muscle spasms and excess mucus.

Exposure to ozone also makes the lungs more vulnerable to lung-related illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.  People with asthma are particularly vulnerable when ground-level ozone levels are high, but even healthy adults and children are vulnerable.  Exposure to ozone for several hours can significantly reduce lung function and increase lung inflammation during exercise.

Photos: Healthy airway and inflamed airway due to ozone inhalation
Healthy airway Inflamed airway due to ozone inhalation.
Source: EPA, 2012

Plants and other ecological systems are also susceptible to smog.  Smog can cause discoloration and damage to plants by impacting the natural photosynthesis process.  In addition, the ozone precursor oxides of nitrogen (NOx) can cause rainfall to become highly acidic (otherwise known as acid rain), which damages the leaves and structure of plants during rain events. 

Photos: Plant discoloration and damage due to smog
Source: USDA

Haze is caused when sunlight encounters tiny particles in the air, including nitrates. Some light is absorbed by these particles in the air; whileother light is scattered away before it reaches an observer. More pollutants in the air causes more absorption and scattering of light, which reduce the clarity and color of what we see.

Photos: Good Visibiltiy and Poor Visibilit from Newark/NYC Haze Camera
Good visibility Poor visibility
Source: Newark/NYC Haze Camera

For real-time pictures from New Jersey showing how haze obscures the skyline, check out the haze camera at www.hazecam.net.