Frequently Asked Questions

What does Ozone Damage look like?

When exposed to high levels of ozone, many plants show damage on their leaves. Older leaves have the most damage. Plants with ozone damage have very fine colored spots on the upper surfaces of their leaves, and some leaves also turn yellow.

cut leaf coneflower
(rudbeckia laciniata)
black-eyed susan
(rudbeckia hirta)

Why does NASA have an Ozone Garden?

NASA's work involves a great deal of research in the service of society on our own planet, including studies of air quality. The Ozone Garden helps to educate people about ozone in our atmosphere. NASA's vision is to improve life here, to extend life to there, and to find life beyond. Ozone research contributes to the NASA vision by using satellite missions, such as Aura, to monitor the health of Earth's atmosphere.
Ground Ozone ground level ozone formation

What is Ozone?

Ninety percent of the ozone in the atmosphere sits in the stratosphere, the layer of atmosphere between about 10 and 50 kilometers altitude. Ozone in the stratosphere is created when the kind of oxygen we breathe - O2 - is split apart by sunlight into single oxygen atoms. Single oxygen atoms can re-join to make O2, or they can join with O2 molecules to make ozone (O3)

Where is Ozone?

Ozone is found in two places in the Earth's atmosphere. Ozone in the Earth's upper atmosphere (stratosphere) protects life from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. High concentrations of ozone found in the Earth's lower atmosphere (troposphere) are hazardous to life.

How is Tropospheric Ozone Created?

Ozone in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is created through a series of reactions involving man-made chemical species such as Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Chemical species that contribute to ground level ozone.

How does it affect me?

In high concentrations, ground level ozone is toxic to human tissue. When ozone levels get too high, the EPA issues "Code Red" days, on which humans should limit their time outdoors.

Smog over upstate New York shuttle view of smog over New York

How can I help?

You can help reduce the amount of ozone in the troposphere by taking some simple steps:

How can I monitor ozone in my own area?

You can monitor ozone by planting ozone-sensitive species in your own garden.
+ Getting Involved in ozone monitoring

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Goddard Space Flight Center