Increased ozone levels burden allergy sufferers and asthmatics

"Never mind, " many say, when the sun taps. But some people experience a nasty surprise when they swing on the bike in the most beautiful summer weather: headache, watery eyes or cough - the range of problems caused by increased ozone levels is wide. After all, about 10 to 15 percent of the population react sensitively to increased ozone concentrations. "Especially people with hay fever or asthma have to reckon with severe respiratory problems at high ozone levels, " says Professor Johannes Ring from the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAI). In this case, an allergologically trained specialist with antiallergic drugs can improve the acute symptoms. By a specific immunotherapy with modern molecularly standardized allergens (allergy vaccination) is achieved in most cases even a long-term relief of the symptoms.

Ozone triggers inflammatory processes

Ozone has repeatedly caused negative headlines. In the upper layers of air, the ozone concentration continues to decrease. The result is the notorious ozone holes. Near the ground, on the other hand, the average ozone concentrations increase from summer to summer. Here ozone is the main component of the so-called summer smog, which is composed of many pollutants.

Intense solar radiation, general vegetation, air pollution and a certain weather conditions lead to the formation of ozone near the ground and at the same time prevent the removal of this irritant gas. Sad review of the beautiful, but ozone-laden weather: There are a third more asthmatics in the emergency outpatient departments than on days with low ozone levels.

Ozone can increase hay fever and asthma

Ozone and other components of the summer smog cause the increased release of allergens. The main problem, however, is that ozone is not retained by the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, but penetrates deep into the bronchial tubes. There it decomposes into aggressive oxygen radicals, which can cause inflammation in the surrounding tissue. If you inhale allergens then they can be much more immediate.

Summer smog is therefore twice as bad for the person affected. There are more allergens in the air and ozone promotes allergic reactions by damaging the lung tissue. Ozone not only exacerbates existing respiratory diseases but may even promote the re-emergence of asthma.

An American study of 3, 500 children came to this conclusion last year. The more sport that is operated at high ozone concentrations outdoors, the higher the risk of developing a respiratory disease. Nevertheless, one does not need to educate his children to couch potatoes. If they forego greater outdoor exertion at high ozone levels, there is no increased risk, according to the American scientists.

No efforts at ozone peaks

How often do we have to expect high ozone levels in summer? At the Federal Environment Agency, data from more than 360 measuring stations are received and prove that dangerous ozone peaks are now reached less frequently. Nevertheless, the average ozone load continues to rise. In 2001, the ozone concentrations of individual stations over 33 days were over 180 micrograms per cubic meter of air (mu) g / m3) and even over 240 (mu) g / m3 on seven days. From 180 (mu) g / m3, the population is informed about the ozone problem. Especially allergy sufferers and asthmatics must then expect health problems. Exceeding 360 (mu) g / m3 ozone in the air also poses an acute danger to healthy people.

At high ozone levels, physical exertion should be avoided. Because exertion or sport allows us to breathe deeper, so more ozone penetrates much further into the lungs.

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