Ground level ozone is created by a chemical reaction between sunlight and pollutants from cars, power plants, refineries and other sources and is more likely to form in warmer weather. Increased heat was likely the cause of the increase in ozone, according to the report.
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Though ozone pollution was high across the metro area, Atlanta tracked fewer days with high ozone levels than in the previous three-year time period. However, the average level of soot in the air worsened according to the report landing Atlanta among the top 25 cities with the highest levels of year-round particle pollution.
Particle pollution, a mix of microscopic liquid and solid particles in the air has been linked to development of asthma in young children, increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other health concerns.
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Six cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. are considered the cleanest with zero high ozone or high particle days including Bangor, Maine; Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln-Beatrice, Nebraska; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida and Wilmington, North Carolina.