Q. What is ozone pollution? Examine its causes and effects.
Ozone is a gas composed of three atoms of oxygen (O3).
Ozone occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level.
Ozone can be good or bad, depending on where it is found.
Ground-level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight.
Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC.
Anaerobic biological processes, lightning, and volcanic activity are the ones adding as much as 90% of all NOx emissions.
Anthropogenic sources of VOCs include emissions from the chemical and petroleum industries, vehicles, etc and from organic solvents in small stationary sources such as dry cleaners.
IMPACTS OF OZONE
The main health concern of exposure to ambient ground-level ozone is its effect on the respiratory system, especially on lung function.
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and airway inflammation. It also can reduce lung function and harm lung tissue.
Ozone can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, leading to increased medical care.
Elevated ground-level ozone exposures affect agricultural crops and trees, especially slow-growing crops and long-lived trees.
In particular, ozone harms sensitive vegetation during the growing season.
Ozone damages the leaves and needles of sensitive plants, causing visible alterations such as defoliation and change of leaf colour.
Can affect agricultural productivity and food security
And, all those effects of breathing in ozone add up to missed school and work, huge health expenditures, and premature death.
Existing technologies for reducing ozone precursor production include “end of pipe” methods of capturing or reducing emissions and changes to fuels used in power plants or cars and trucks.
There are also more downstream ideas that amount to basically scrubbing ozone or its precursors from the air; one 2014 study showed that planting trees around urban areas could help reduce the ozone burden, perhaps at a lower cost than for the more industry-centered technology approaches.
Regulatory agencies, in their efforts to limit production of the pollutant, must pick a target number, and then hold localities or polluters responsible when they fail to hit it.
Raising awareness about ozone pollution and adequate precautions that need to be taken by people.