Recently, three of North Carolina's urban regions ranked in the top 25 for ozone pollution on a list released by the American Lung Association. (shouldn't that be "among the bottom 25"?) anyway, the Charlotte area ranked 14th, the triad region (Winston-Salem, Greensboro, & High point) was 16th, and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (the triangle) was 23rd. Ozone levels are better than they were in the 1960's, mostly due to improvements in auto emissions, yet nearly half the nation's residents live in counties with still-unhealthy levels of ozone. Way up in the top reaches of the atmosphere, ozone is good. It bounces some of the sun's rays that would be harmful back into space, preventing them from making toast of all of us. Ozone at ground-level, however, is not good--it's harmful to your lungs. Metro areas with high traffic flow are the most threatened. Also, the state's division of air quality says they're now issuing their forecasts year-round for ozone and particulate "stuff" in the air in the Charlotte and triad areas. They issue them from may through September for the triangle, Fayetteville, and (for the first time this year) the Rocky Mount metro area. The only good news in this ozone alert is: Wilmington is not mentioned. We should not feel smug about that, though, because, with a continuing population explosion, it's just a matter of time.