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What is ozone and why is it dangerous?

Ozone, chemical formula O3 (3 oxygen atoms) A gas that is always present in our atmosphere. It is formed when oxygen, O2First split into two separate oxygen atoms by UV rays, then all three form O.3molecule or ozone molecule. So all you need is oxygen and strong enough UV rays from the sun.

Ozone normally forms only at high altitudes in the ozone layer in our stratosphere, where it protects us from harmful UV rays. Without this protective shield, our skin would quickly become damaged, resulting in damage to our DNA (and therefore cancers).

A few decades ago, it was established that ozone concentrations in the air were decreasing. It was later referred to as the “Hole in the Ozone Layer”. This is due to air pollution from chlorofluorocarbons or “CFC gases” found mainly in refrigeration systems. Fortunately, this problem has been tackled globally and since 1989 the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer, has been in place. Since then, the ozone layer has been recovering, and Australia and New Zealand have very low ozone concentrations.

Altitude ozone is so essential that it is called “good” ozone. There is also “bad” ozone. On very sunny days, with strong ultraviolet radiation, ozone can form at low altitudes as a result of the reaction of air pollution. This causes health problems in humans. When you inhale ozone, your lungs can become irritated and you may even have breathing problems. So it’s not for nothing that heavy physical exertion is not recommended on hot, sunny days.

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Concentrations of “bad” ozone in the troposphere are regularly measured and monitored by the Flemish Environment Agency and the Intermediate Cell for the Environment. When certain threshold values ​​are exceeded, people are notified or warned.