Ozone is a molecule that serves both good and bad functions. In the lower atmosphere, the troposphere, ozone is a major component of smog. This is what people call "bad" ozone because of its harmful effects on people, materials and ecosystems. It is created when sunlight reacts with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that are emitted by automobiles, auto body shops, gas stations, organic solvents and dozens of other sources. The concentration of ozone in the air also strongly correlates to many meteorological characteristics including temperature, wind speed and atmospheric stability.
Ground level ozone should not be confused with the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, the stratosphere, that shields the Earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. This is what people call "good" ozone. Over the past few years, scientists and the media have given a lot of attention to the problem of the "hole" in the ozone layer. In fact, "good" and "bad" ozone are chemically identical, it is only the location that makes the difference between the two. It is important that people do not mistake one for the other.