4:13pm

Fri September 2, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Climate Change, Higher Ozone Levels Linked

Louisville is mired in a string of unhealthy air days, and the ozone levels expected today and tomorrow will be the highest the city has seen so far this year. A study recently released suggests links between climate change and increased ozone exposure. Ozone happens when pollution from exhaust and industries combine and chemically react in the presence of heat and sunlight. So, as average temperatures in some regions rise, we could see more bad air days.

Liz Perera is a public health expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a co-author of the report.

“What’s going to happen in a warming world is we’re going to see more days that are conducive to ozone formation. What we looked at in our report is what is that going to do to the U.S. population in terms of health impacts.”

Ten percent of children in Jefferson County have asthma, which Perera says is a high percentage, but on par with other regional cities like Cleveland. The report estimates that by 2020, increased exposure to ozone in the United States could raise health care costs by $5.4 billion.

Louisville has already had 19 Air Quality Alert days this year, surpassing last year’s record of 18.