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It's not just the heat -- it's the ozone: Study highlights hidden dangers
Date:7/19/2013

ue to ozone would have occurred under minimal plant ozone uptake conditions over the June to July period; of these 460 could have been avoided if plants had been absorbing ozone at full capacity. All estimated premature deaths are in addition to human health and mortality impacts from the heat itself.

"The most vulnerable people to ozone pollution are those with existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases," explains Dr Emberson. "For example, ground-level ozone can lead to lung inflammation, decreased lung function, and an increase in asthma attacks. That is why, during high ozone episodes, especially in urban areas, people are generally advised not to do physical activity."

The study findings were published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The research was financed by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The timing of the publication coincides with yet another major heat wave in the UK, and Dr Emberson says it is likely that ozone uptake by vegetation is once again curtailed. The extent of the problem, however, will depend on how dry the soil is, since it is the combination of heat and drought that stresses plants the most.

Dr Emberson says the study highlights the importance of understanding the frequency with which such heat waves and droughts will occur in the future as well as how ozone uptake by vegetation is affected by droughts, extreme heat, and interaction with other pollutants.

"The more we know, the better we will be able to judge how successful our emission reduction efforts have been so far, and whether we need additional efforts -- in the UK, across Europe and beyond, since we know that pollutants such as ozone and its precursors can carried around the globe," she says.

The research can also inform public-health responses, Dr Emberson says. For example, people may mistakenly believe that as long as they get out of the cit
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Contact: David Garner
david.garner@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22153
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

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