Scientists have compared the irritation caused by ozone to that of sunburn. During ozone exposure, lung tissue becomes inflamed, then flakes and peels like skin exposed to too much sunlight. Extensive time spent in poor air quality may damage tissue permanently, thereby degrading overall lung function.
In the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 6, ozone is of great concern. In the high altitude stratosphere, ozone acts as a necessary shield for incoming UV radiation, protecting humans, plants, and wildlife, but if produced nearer to the ground, ozone causes serious health problems, especially in the human respiratory system.
Region 6, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico Oklahoma, Texas and 66 Tribal Nations, has high levels of ozone because of the sunny and hot climate, the sprawling urban population and some of the largest industrial complexes in the United States, all of which lead to the creation of ground-level ozone. Ground level ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight.
Some people are especially sensitive to ozone, including children, outside workers, and respiratory disease sufferers. Some pollutants can have multiple harmful effects. For example, a high concentration of, nitrogen oxide, is especially dangerous because it leads to the formation of acid rain, particle pollution, and ozone.
Because of the efforts of the EPA and state partners, levels of ozone in the atmosphere have been reduced despite increases in population and industrial output.
EPA. May is the start of ozone season in Region 6. Retrieved 07 May 2012.