The ‘smog season’ is generally at its highest during the summer months, but can occur at any time of the year.
Summer smog contains high levels of ozone, which, at high altitudes protects us from the sun’s harmful rays, but at ground level can become harmful to our health and environment.
The ozone layer is naturally decomposed by UV rays (and also by greenhouse gases), so ozone levels in our air are highest between noon and 6pm on hot, sunny and humid days.
Smog can irritate your eyes nose and throat and cause respiratory problems and lung disease. People with asthma or a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may exhibit more frequent coughing, increased wheezing, and shortness of breath or phlegm.
It can also aggravate the symptoms of cardiovascular disease. People with heart failure may experience more shortness of breath or swelling of the ankles and feet.
Smog is bad for everyone’s health. But the elderly, children and adolescents are particularly affected by it.
Anyone who practises a lot of physical activity outdoors, through work or exercise, may notice a difference and should be vigilant.
If you are especially susceptible to the effects of smog, then it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking the air quality index and forecast on a daily basis.
On hot smoggy days, try to remain indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned room, as air conditioners lower the temperature, humidity and pollen levels in the air, which will ease your breathing.
If it is essential for you to be outside then just listen to your body and notice any changes that could be dangerous.
If you experience fatigue, respiratory difficulty or any uncomfortable symptoms, take a rest.