As the spring comes to Ohio (and all over the US), our residents brace themselves for the return of high ozone levels. The rising temperatures can have a dramatic affect on the weather surrounding the Great Lakes, causing ozone levels to exceed allowable ranges.
Because of the variability in our region’s climate, health concerns are deeply impacted. The higher temperatures lead to increases in power demands and emissions during the Spring and Summer, which in turn worsen the air pollution. The increasing temperatures speed up the chemical reactions that create smog and ozone. These reactions then lead to an increase in the transportation of air-borne allergens…exacerbating the symptoms in asthma sufferers. In short, taking our kids out to play in the nice weather just isn’t what we dream it to be, especially if we have kids with asthma.
And, in case you didn’t know this, between 14% and 90% of allergens and pollutants make their way to the Great Lakes via cross-country air currents. These air currents are so powerful that a pesticide called Toxaphene, once used extensively in the South to coat cotton, has been transported via these currents all the way up to the Lakes. It’s not enough that this chemical is traveling up to us, but this chemical has been banned for 20 years, and still has lasting impacts on our soil, air and water.
Further complicating our Spring plans is the impact that the warmer weather has on the water. Since Ohio’s Northern border is water, we need to be aware of how weather changes allow for additional pollutants. Of course, the pollutants in the water have a negative effect on the already less than healthy fish population, but the warmer the summer, the more quickly the water will stratify, which causes a reduction in beneficial algae. Since the algae isn’t there to consume the toxins, water-based pollutants are in higher numbers leaving our summer swimmers at an increased risk of exposure.
As we wait for the warm weather to be upon us for the duration of the summer, it is time to once again stand up for the stricter air quality standards. As we celebrate the breezes that blow by while we play with our children in the sunshine, let’s remember that those sweet children are the reason why we fight for clean air.
Photo credit: dekok