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Ozone levels exceed safe limits

A government commission has called for renewed efforts to combat harmful ozone levels after high concentrations were recorded in the past six months.

A safe hourly limit of 120 micrograms per cubic metre was exceeded at various times. Between January and June the limit was exceeded 190 times in Zurich and Basel and 340 times in Lugano, where peaks of 280 micrograms per cubic metre were recorded.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Federal Commission for Air Hygiene said the government should use the best technologies available to reduce further harmful emissions.

Progress has been made since 1990 due to improved measuring technologies and incentive taxes, with emissions of nitrogen oxide down by 55 per cent, and emissions responsible for ozone down 65 per cent. But the Commission says significant reductions still need to be made.

Low level ozone is an atmospheric pollutant. It is formed by the reaction of sunlight on nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbon particles in the air.

Extended periods of high ozone levels negatively affect plant growth, deteriorating buildings, and harming humans’ respiratory tract and lung tissue.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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