Ozone affects air quality in Northern Nevada

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It can't been seen or even smelled, but during the hotter months of the year, ozone is what's in the air that could damage your lungs. Ozone is created from emissions in cars and trucks combined with the emissions from solvents and paints, which is all formed in the presence of sunlight.

"That's why we have higher ozone levels here in the summertime," says Daniel Inouye, Branch Chief at Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division.

Inouye says Northern Nevada is in the middle of ozone season and the air quality is affected by it, so that is why folks see moderate air quality levels consistently during this time of the year.

He says smoke from wildfires can be a factor, but this year it hasn't caused much of a problem like previous years.

"Right now we're very fortunate that even though there's a lot of fires out there and a lot of smoke, the wind is not blowing where it's impacting here in the Truckee Meadows," Inouye says.

There are precautions that people can take when the air quality is low. The elderly, young children and those with respiratory conditions are the most at risk.

The EPA says ozone can cause decreased lung function, can aggravate asthma, cause throat irritation, cough, chest pain or shortness of breath and can make you more susceptible to respiratory infection.

Inouye says the biggest cause of ozone pollution is vehicles on the road. He says this is an ongoing challenge as the Reno-Sparks area continues to grow.

"If we can reduce the amount of miles that we drive with our cars and trucks, that will go a long way with improving air quality," he says.