Facts About Ground Level Ozone
Oxygen plays a very important role because it supports life. It supports mankind, animals, and its uses are important down to the decomposition of organic waste in the aquatic resources. The oxygen we breathe is only composed of two oxygen atoms, O2, in ozone form it is consists of three atoms of oxygen, O3.
Ozone is a colorless gas and appears in two layers. The first one is present in the stratosphere and it protects us from sun’s harmful rays. It is referred to as the good ozone. However, the ozone present in the troposphere is referred to as the bad ozone. It is the main ingredient of smog and it is called ground level ozone.
Sources of Ground Level Ozone, O3
Ground level ozone is not directly emitted into the atmosphere. It is the result of air pollution from automobiles and exhausts of factories and power plants. It is formed when gasoline and coal are burned leading to the release of nitrogen oxide gasses (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere. We may look at the simple equation below for the process of producing ground level ozone:
VOCs + NOx + sunlight = Ozone
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted from petroleum and chemical industries. Aside from anthropogenic sources, trees on the other hand, also release small amounts in the atmosphere.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are highly reactive gasses. Main sources of these are automobiles, electric utilities, and are also emitted from power plants and from commercial and industrial processes which burn fuel. Natural sources, however, include lightning and volcanic activities.
Impacts of Ground Level Ozone, O3
Ground level ozone is a health hazard and can affect everyone. These health implications are influenced by factors such as concentration of O3 in the atmosphere and length of exposure. O3 concentrations are highest during summer when the temperature is higher and the air is stagnant.
O3 is a pollutant with known toxic effects. It can cause damage to the environment, agriculture, and human health. Constant exposure to this may lead to eye irritation; coughing, nose irritation, impaired lung function, and can aggravate asthma. People
Longer exposure to higher concentration of ground level ozone may affect agricultural crops and trees. It can damage the leaves resulting to change in color and defoliation.
How to Minimize O3?
1. Conserve energy and try to reuse and recycle
2. Keep vehicles well tuned.
3. Limit driving. You may try to walk to ride a bicycle if the destination is not that far.
Ground Level Ozone. Pollution Prevention Abatement Handbook. World Bank Group.
Ozone Aware. Available at http://www.ozoneaware.org. Retrieved on September 28, 2011.
Air Pollution: What’s The Solution? Available at http://www.ciese.org. Retrieved on September 28, 2011.