Lions, Tigers, and Ozone! OH MY!

Trend after trend, the world is constantly evolving. What’s the next best car? What’s the next best way to smoke? What’s the quickest way to produce mass amounts of products? While new trends are constantly popping up, there is one trend that is questioning the consequences of this evolving world. That trend is health. What are the effects of these new advances in technology on us and the environment? Now, before we jump to veganism, let’s start with one of the things we rely on most, air. The pollution effects of our ever-developing world has a large toll on the air. One air molecule that is crucial to monitor in respect to pollution is ozone, O3. Ozone is an important molecule in the atmosphere because it absorbs radiation, but that occurs about 35km up in the stratosphere. When pollution occurs, it changes the levels of ozone and can cause an increase of ozone in the troposphere, which is the air that humans breathe. Ozone damages tissues and is inflammatory. It is critical to regulate the levels of ozone in the air we breathe and determine ways to minimize the effects.


In recent studies, they have found a way to minimize the effects of ambient particulate matter (PM)  is by use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin. This was a study using 2,280 male veterans with an average age of 73-years-old. Over the course of the study, with other factors considered, such as age and smoking, the researchers determined that the use of NSAIDs, particularly aspirin, nearly halved the effects of PM on lung tissue. This is significant as this can potentially protect the lungs during short-term spikes in air pollution. Ozone is not considered particulate matter as it is a gas in the air, but this discovery can provide some insight into how we can also minimize ozone’s effects on the lungs. Ozone causes damage to lung tissue and lung inflammation; therefore, it would be beneficial to put efforts towards researching if NSAIDs can aid in further protection for inflammatory gaseous molecules, such as ozone. 


Due to the importance of air pollution research and awareness for human and environmental health, we researched whether ozone concentrations in the air were higher indoors or outdoors. By pinpointing where higher ozone concentrations are, we are able to then develop strategies to lower ozone concentrations and minimize the consequences on health. Based on the data from 4 research groups that tested two indoor and two outdoor locations around the University of San Diego, we determined ozone concentrations to be higher outdoors than indoors. The increase in ozone is likely due to a higher presence of pollution sources, such as cars. This is not to disregard the fact that some indoor areas may be high in air pollutants based on what is in the room. This is valuable information as when ozone levels are higher during particular times, it is advised to stay indoors, especially from those already suffering from lung disease, such as asthma. So the next time you are thinking about the salad you’re about to eat or the new cycling class you are about to try, also consider if you are contributing to ozone levels and ways to reduce its effects if you want to put your health first!


3 thoughts on “Lions, Tigers, and Ozone! OH MY!

  1. The topic of NSAIDs being used to minimize effects of PM is so interesting! This can especially be useful to those living in third world countries where PM levels may be much higher than it is in the U.S. and I wonder if this will decease cases of asthma and other respiratory problems. Especially because aspirin is a low-cost drug, this can potentially be an efficient and low-cost method to reduce these issues in third world countries. I was wondering, though, what the science is behind aspirin and how it can minimize PM effects? Is it the characteristics of aspirin itself that helps combat PM effects in our body?

  2. Wow! I didn’t know that aspirin could do this! I wonder what is actually in aspirin that makes this work.. I also wonder if this will be just another chemical that we add to our environment and then later find out that it is no longer is effective to the extent that it’s cons greatly outweigh the benefits. It seems like an endless cycle but it’s end must be found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.