What Affects my Air Quality?
Air quality where you live can vary depending on how much air pollution
is emitted in your community, how much pollution is carried into your community
on the wind, and by weather conditions.
Ozone forms when two key pollutants, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) “cook in the sun.” These pollutants
are precursors to ozone formation, meaning they must be present in the
air for ozone to form. Particle pollution can be directly emitted (like
smoke from a woodstove), but a lot of particles form when gases react in
the air. NOx and sulfur dioxides (SO2) contribute to particle formation.
These ozone and particle-forming pollutants come from a wide variety of
sources, including mobile sources, power plants, and industries. Natural
sources contribute, too: wildfires and volcanoes contribute to particle
pollution, while trees and other vegetation can contribute both to particle
and ozone pollution.
Weather plays a big role in the levels of ozone and particle pollution
in your community. Sunlight and heat, for example, promote ozone formation.
Light winds and temperature inversions both can keep pollution from dispersing.
And depending on its direction, the wind can bring in more pollution – sometimes
from hundreds of miles away. Geography can affect pollution levels too;
mountain ranges, such as those in southern California, can prevent pollution
More about the elements of weather that affect