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Ozone is a highly reactive substance and can have adverse health effects at the sites of initial contact i.e. the respiratory tract (nose, throat and airways), the lungs, and at higher concentrations, the eyes. The principal health effects are produced by irritation of and damage to the small airways of the lung; however, people have considerable variation in sensitivity. Uncontrolled exposure to relatively high levels of ozone can lead to more severe health effects, including lung damage. At the levels of exposure likely to be normally found in the workplace the main concern is irritation of the upper airways, symptoms include coughing and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

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Ozone, 03, is a form of oxygen. It is a colourless gas with a distinctive odour and is a normal constituent of the earth’s atmosphere. It is about 1.6 times heavier than air and produced naturally from oxygen whenever sufficient ultraviolet (UV) radiation or electrical discharges occur, for example at high altitudes or by the action of lightning. The majority of ozone found near ground level is formed by photochemical reactions involving oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons.

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