Ozone is a naturally occurring compound
that, in the upper atmosphere shields us from
harmful ultraviolet light from the sun.
In the lower atmosphere however, ozone is
a pollutant that contributes to smog and is a
respiratory hazard. Ozone is created
naturally by nitrogen oxide and carbon oxide
(nitrogen and carbon combined with oxygen)
compounds reacting with sunlight.
When forest fires burn, they release large
amounts of the compound carbon monoxide into the
air (the same compound created by burning gasoline
in your car!). The carbon monoxide reacts with
sunlight, and creates ozone. The huge fires that
are burning in California right now are adding a
lot of carbon monoxide to the air, and that's why
the air quality is so poor right now.
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