Well guess what? While everyone was concentrating on getting ready for and getting home for Thanksgiving, the Economic Proscription Agency (EPA) quietly slipped through new limits on the level of – you guessed it – Ozone!
The EPA says on it's website that "Ground level or 'bad' ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight." The most charitable thing I can say about that statement is that the Economic Proscription Agency has been misinformed. Some Ozone is emitted directly into the air, and while it's true that most of it is created, it is definitely not created by chemical reactions.
Ozone is an ion composed of three Oxygen atoms. Oxygen has six electrons in its outer shell, which makes it diatomic, meaning it's normal form is two atoms of Oxygen bonded together. In order to create Ozone – to make the normal diatomic Oxygen molecule bond with a third Oxygen atom – the electrons in that outer shell have to be raised to a higher energy level. That extra energy can be supplied by an electric discharge, which is why you smell Ozone after a lightening flash, or it can be supplied by sunlight, as it is in the production of Ozone in the stratosphere.
Most of the Ozone in the earth's atmosphere is created by the action of sunlight on Oxygen. The EPA's own data show that the level of Ozone in the atmosphere has dropped 33% over the last two decades. But that's not due to any EPA actions or actions taken by industry. It's the direct result of the fact that the intensity of solar radiation has been dropping off for the last twenty years, which is why our winters are getting more severe and lasting longer and our summers are getting milder.
It is true, of course, that Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent, and that it oxidizes pollutants in the atmosphere to produce a soup of Nitrogen and Sulfur oxides and acids known as "smog," but Ozone is not the culprit. It's the pollutants in the air that cause the smog.
Besides, trying to curtail the natural production of Ozone by sunlight with a set of written regulations is as misguided and stupid as trying to control the sun's natural heating and cooling cycle by limiting carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.