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A program of the American Lung Association of the Southeast

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Health Effects of Ozone


When a person inhales ozone, it reacts chemically with the body’s internal tissues causing inflammation, like a “sunburn,” of the lung. Ozone acts as a powerful respiratory irritant at the levels found frequently across the nation. Breathing ozone may lead to serious harm to health, including:



  • Premature death
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs
  • Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Increased risk of asthma attacks; and
  • Increased need for medical treatment and hospitalization for peoples with lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Children are particularly susceptible to ozone-related health problems because they spend more time outside than adults, their respiratory systems are still developing, and they breathe in more air per body weight than adults.