nyc_smog.jpgUnder new testing guidelines, the EPA has announced that the New York City area is 9 of 474 counties in the country that do not meet the federal health standard for smog-causing ozone. The results only show us what we already knew, since we were already violating the older, more lenient standard. While they probably didn't have to spend all that money testing just to tell us that, at least our whole state didn't fail like New Jersey did. We now have until 2007 to come up with a plan to fix the problem and until 2010 to make the air cleaner.

Ozone is the same chemical structure whether it is the "good" kind occurring naturally 10-30 miles above us protecting us from harmful sun rays, or the "bad" kind on ground level produced with the help of car exhaust, industrial emissions. Since sunlight and hot weather help cause ground-level ozone to form in dangerous high-level concentrations, we have reason for concern. Ozone can do more than cause respiratory difficulties. Over several months, it can cause permanent lung damage. Gothamist now has new-found respect for the flashing "Ozone Alert" signs in the city. Not discounting the serious health hazard, the air quality isn't the reason we live here. If it is, you need help. The smog does make for nice sunsets though. Other health hazards of note, uncooked dirty-water hot dogs, going to high school, and riding the bus.

You can see what the air quality is right now in real time in different parts of the city.