What does ozone smell like? When most people hear the word ozone, they tend to think about the layer of the atmosphere far, far above the ground that protects the Earth from the UV radiation of the sun. The ozone layer, despite being incredibly far from the ground, still affects the daily lives of almost every living organism on the planet. Despite the fact that the ozone protects the Earth from the sun’s radiation, people hear bad things about the ozone layer more often than not. If there is something that is protecting nearly every living organism from the sun’s radiation, why is it receiving negativity? The truth is that the ozone layer can do a lot more harm than good for everyone.
For example, the ozone gasses are very harmful for most living things to breathe. Breathing in ozone can cause respiratory issues and worsen issues that you might already have. For example, ozone can trigger an asthma attack in people who have asthma and are sensitive to ozone layers. In addition to this, the ozone layer does a whole lot more than shield the Earth from the sun’s radiation. Because the ozone can be so harmful, a federal air quality index has been developed so that you can check the ozone levels in the air. However, in order to utilize this information, you have to have a good idea on what exactly ozone is.
Simply put, ozone can be considered a form of oxygen. While oxygen makes up a portion of the air that you breathe, it has many other uses in the air. One of the largest differences between the oxygen that you consider ozone and typical oxygen is the molecular makeup. The molecules of oxygen that all living things need to breathe is made up of two oxygen atoms. On the other hand, the ozone is made of molecules that have three atoms of oxygen. This is part of the reason why breathing in ozone can be bad for your health.
The ozone itself is typically located in one of two areas: the stratosphere and the troposphere. The stratosphere, which extends to about 32 miles above the earth’s surface, is the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. The troposphere is located just below the stratosphere and typically reaches no higher than six miles above the Earth’s surface. The troposphere is where nearly all living organisms are located. Depending on where the ozone is located, it can spell out trouble for your health and well-being.
What Happens When Ozone Is in the Stratosphere?
If the ozone is sitting in the stratosphere, there really isn’t all that much to worry about. Scientists consider this ozone layer to be the better of the two. When the ozone layer is this high in the sky, its main purpose is to protect the Earth from the sun’s radiation. Over time, this layer will break down from the radiation but will eventually replenish itself.
While this layer of the ozone is typically considered to be a good layer, there are some problems. Man-made chemicals have been shown to cause deterioration in this ozone layer. Over time, these chemicals will rise to the ozone level in the stratosphere where they will be destroyed by the sun’s radiation. This releases a myriad of radicals that will damage and destroy the ozone layer in the sky. When this happens, the sun’s radiation will intensify on the surface as there is no protective ozone in the sky. This causes damage in plants, eventually killing them, as well as cancer, cataracts, and suppression of the immune system in humans. This is not good, though the ozone layer will eventually replenish, protecting the surface of the Earth once again.
What Happens When Ozone Is in the Troposphere?
On the other hand, when the ozone is found in the troposphere, serious problems can arise. Ozone is considered to be an air pollutant and is extremely harmful to the health of all living things. Ozone will form in this layer when oxide of nitrogen and certain organic compounds, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mix. VOCs come from car, factory, and power plant emissions. When this reaction occurs in sunlight, ozone is formed. Because the layer of ozone is so close to the ground, some troublesome problems can occur if it is breathed in. Thankfully, you can protect yourself by knowing how to smell ozone and get away from a place that smells heavily of ozone.
What Does Ozone Smell Like?
A lot of people who are familiar with the smell of ozone can tell you that it smells similar to a coming storm. After all, before a heavy storm, some people can smell a peculiar scent. However, this smell is actually ozone and not moisture in the air as some people mistakenly claim. Humans can actually pick up the scent of ozone pretty easily and in pretty small concentrations as well. In fact, many people can smell ozone in as small concentrations as ten parts per billion.
As for the scent of ozone itself, a lot of people call it a metallic scent, comparing it to an electrical spark or a burning wire. Some people describe it as a strangely clean smell or something similar to chlorine. Other people would tell you that ozone smells both sweet and pungent. Generally, ozone has a sharp, distinctive scent that you will be able to recognize easily once you know what to look for. If the air around you has this scent, there’s a good chance that you are in a place that has high concentrations of ozone in the air. Now that you are aware of this, you will be able to take the proper precautions to protect yourself.
How Can Ozone Hurt You?
When you realize that there is a high amount of ozone in the air, you should begin taking precautions to protect yourself and your family. There are some people who are at more of a risk for ozone exposure than others, including people such as:
- People who have asthma
- Elderly adults
- People who work outdoors
- People who have deficiencies in vitamins C and E
These people are at more of a risk for ozone exposure because of the condition of their lungs or the amount of time that they spend outside. In addition to this, children are extremely at risk for this type of problem for a few reasons. Children are still developing their lungs, which means that small amounts of ozone can be damaging. Children are also more active outside and have a greater risk of developing or having asthma. For these reasons, you should pay attention to these people for the signs of ozone exposure.
Because ozone is typically breathed in, the symptoms of ozone exposure are generally focused around the lungs. When exposed to ozone for only a short time, or up to eight hours, symptoms can present as mild, such as through coughs, wheezing, throat or lung irritation, or as more severe, such as a tight chest, shortness of breath, or pain when breathing. Long-term ozone exposure, as you can imagine, is significantly worse. Long-term exposure can present itself as increased susceptibility to respiratory disorders including pneumonia and bronchitis, scarring in the lungs, and decreased immune system function. These problems are irreversible and can threaten your life. Because ozone exposure can be so damaging, it is all the more important to be able to know how ozone smells so that you can protect yourself and those close to you.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Now that you know how ozone works and how it smells, you can begin taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and those who are close to you. Of course, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to get out of an area where the ozone is highly concentrated. This will ensure that you won’t have to breathe high levels of ozone, nor will you be exposed to it. Once the concentration of ozone dies down, you will be able to return to your typical life. With that being said, there are many ways that you can reduce your contributions to ozone pollution.
For instance, you can consider reducing your use of cars and other appliances that put out a lot of exhaust. Carpooling, biking, and public transportation are all wonderful alternatives. Making sure that you can conserve your energy usage whenever possible is also a good idea. Air conditioners, gas-powered lawn mowers, and electricity can all contribute to ozone pollution. Reducing your usage of these things can reduce the amount of ozone pollution that you contribute to.
By understanding ozone, you can learn how to protect yourself and your family from the dangerous effects of ozone exposure. Understanding where ozone comes from, what causes it, and how it works is one of the best things that you can do when it comes to long-term ozone protection. In addition to this, knowing how to check if there is a high ozone concentration in the air is something that you won’t regret. With this knowledge by your side, you will be able to help everyone around you protect themselves from ozone while helping them understand more about it in the process.