Wildfires have torn across the western United States over the last decade. Displacing thousands of people, destroying homes and businesses, and taking lives, wildfires have become a common extreme weather event. While wildfires themselves present a dangerous public health hazard, the lingering effects of atmospheric pollution are also linked to increases in urban ozone concentrations. Ozone is a harmful air pollutant made up of three oxygen atoms and is linked to respiratory illness. Typically seen as a “good” environmental actor, ozone is the chemical compound that makes up the protective ozone layer, shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. However, ground-level ozone, or ozone forming below the stratosphere, acts as an air pollutant and the main ingredient in urban smog.
Wildfire smoke is known to contribute to increased ozone levels in urban areas, but the exact chemistry was never well understood. A new study has determined that the complex chemical cocktail of wildfire smoke mixed with nitrous oxide can result in harmful levels of ozone. Nitrous oxide, a common transportation byproduct, is often found in urban regions due to the high prevalence of traffic congestion. A joint project between the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered with the Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality flight campaign to create a flying laboratory. The research team collected air samples from this flying laboratory during times of wildfire to analyze the chemical components of the smoke plume. Using this data, lead researcher Dr. Xu and his team created an equation to calculate ozone production based on wildfire emissions.
As wildfire smoke drifts over cityscapes, the urban sources of nitrous oxide mix with the smoke to generate high volumes of dangerous ozone. Mixing could increase ozone concentrations by as much as 3 parts per billion (ppb), a figure well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health advisory of 70 ppb, but the increase may still result in increased respiratory distress, especially for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Climate change will only increase the frequency of wildfire events, leading to an increase in urban air pollution impacts. This poses a challenge for environmental regulatory agencies as wildfire smoke may undermine attempts to regulate ozone pollution.
Lu Xu is a research scientist in the tropospheric chemistry division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelors of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Zhejiang University
Managing Correspondent: Samantha Tracy
Press Article: “Wildfire smoke may ramp up toxic ozone production in cities”
Journal Article: “Ozone chemistry in western U.S. wildfire plumes”
Photo Credit: Pixabay
9 thoughts on “A Deadly Mix: Wildfires and Urban Air Pollution Create Toxic Ozone”
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A new study has determined that the complex chemical cocktail of wildfire smoke mixed with nitrous oxide can result in harmful levels of ozone. Nitrous oxide, a common transportation byproduct, is often found in urban regions due to the high prevalence of traffic congestion. https://alightmotionapk.co/mod/
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According to a recent research, the complicated chemical concoction of nitrous oxide and wildfire smoke can produce dangerously high quantities of ozone. Due to the high incidence of traffic congestion, nitrous oxide, a typical transportation byproduct, is frequently observed in metropolitan areas.
Ozone levels in the atmosphere can be dangerously high when nitrous oxide and wildfire smoke combine.
Researchers have discovered that the complex chemical cocktail of wildfire smoke and nitrous oxide can cause harmful levels of ozone. Traffic congestion causes nitrogen oxide, a common transportation byproduct, to be produced in urban areas.
Nitrous oxide, a common transportation byproduct, is often found in urban regions due to the high prevalence of traffic congestion. A joint project between the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered with the Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality flight campaign to create a flying laboratory.
The smoke from a wildfire contains particles of fine soot and chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons. Once these particles are released into the atmosphere, they combine with the oxygen present to form ozone. Ozone levels in wildfire-affected regions can rise to levels that exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for safe air quality. The presence of this ozone can cause respiratory problems, aggravate existing respiratory conditions, and increase the risk of asthma attacks.
In addition to the direct impacts of urban ozone pollution on human health, the presence of ozone in the atmosphere can also have indirect effects. Warmer temperatures from high ozone levels can increase evapotranspiration and decrease air quality, leading to the release of more ozone-forming pollutants into the atmosphere. This can further contribute to the formation of ozone and create a positive feedback loop, leading to even more ozone and further health risks.
The effects of wildfire-related urban ozone pollution can be long-lasting, with the potential to cause significant harm to public health. To mitigate these risks, local and federal governments must work together to create policies and regulations that will reduce the amount of ozone-forming pollutants released into the atmosphere. This can include reducing emissions
A groundbreaking new study has revealed the dangerous impact of wildfire smoke mixed with nitrous oxide on urban ozone levels. The research, conducted by a joint project between NASA and NOAA, used a cutting-edge flying laboratory to collect air samples during times of wildfire. Lead researcher Dr. Xu and his team then analyzed the chemical components of the smoke plume to create an equation that accurately predicts ozone production based on wildfire emissions. This crucial information sheds light on the harmful effects of nitrous oxide in urban areas, which is a common byproduct of transportation. To stay up-to-date on snow predictions, check out the trusted and reliable https://thesnowdaypredictor.com/ website, which offers accurate information free of charge.