Tropospheric ozone

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Seasonal average vertical columns of tropospheric ozone in Dobson units over the period 1979 to 2000. In June to August photochemical ozone production causes very high concentrations over the East Coast of the USA and China.

Ozone (O3) is a constituent of the troposphere (it is also an important constituent of some regions of the stratosphere commonly known as the ozone layer ). The troposphere extends from the Earth ‘s surface to between 12 and 20 kilometers above sea level and consists of many layers. Ozone is more concentrated above the mixing layer, or ground layer. Ground-level ozone, though less concentrated than ozone aloft, is more of a problem because of its health effects . [1]

Photochemical and chemical reactions involving it drive many of the chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere by day and by night. At abnormally high concentrations brought about by human activities (largely incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, etc.), it is a pollutant , and a constituent of smog . Many highly energetic reactions produce it, ranging from combustion to photocopying. Often laser printers will have a smell of ozone, which in high concentrations is toxic. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent readily reacting with other chemical compounds to make many possibly toxic oxides. [2]

Tropospheric ozone is a greenhouse gas and initiates the chemical removal of methane and other hydrocarbons from the atmosphere. Thus, its concentration affects how long these compounds remain in the air.


  • 1 Measurement
  • 2 Formation
  • 3 Health effects
  • 4 Problem areas
  • 5 Climate change
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links

Measurement[ edit ]

Satellites are able to measure tropospheric ozone. [3] [4] Measurements specifically of ground-level ozone require in situ monitoring technology.

Formation[ edit ]

The majority of tropospheric ozone formation occurs when nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight. NOx, CO, and VOCs are called ozone precursors. Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents are the major anthropogenic sources of these chemicals. Although these precursors often originate in urban areas, winds can carry NOx hundreds of kilometers, causing ozone formation to occur in less populated regions as well. Methane, a VOC whose atmospheric concentration has increased tremendously during the last century, contributes to ozone formation but on a global scale rather than in local or regional photochemical smog episodes. In situations where this exclusion of methane from the VOC group of substances is not obvious, the term Non-Methane VOC (NMVOC) is often used.

The chemical reactions involved in tropospheric ozone formation are a series of complex cycles in which carbon monoxide and VOCs are oxidised to water vapour and carbon dioxide. The reactions involved in this process are illustrated here with CO but similar reactions occur for VOC as well. The oxidation begins with the reaction of CO with the hydroxyl radical (OH). [5] The radical intermediate formed by this reacts rapidly with oxygen to give a peroxy radical HO

+ CO

Peroxy radicals then go on to react with NO to give NO
which is photolysed to give atomic oxygen and through reaction with oxygen a molecule of ozone:

+ NO → OH + NO
+ hν → NO + O(3P)
O(3P) + O

The balance of this sequence of chemical reactions is:

CO + 2O
+ hν → CO
+ O

The amount of ozone produced through these reactions can be calculated using the Leighton relationship .

This cycle involving HO
and NO
is terminated by the reaction of OH with NO
to form nitric acid or by the reaction of peroxy radicals with each other to form peroxides . The chemistry involving VOCs is much more complex but the same reaction of peroxy radicals oxidizing NO to NO
is the critical step leading to ozone formation.

Health effects[ edit ]

See also: Ozone § Health_effects

Health effects depend on ozone precursors, which is a group of pollutants, primarily generated during the combustion of fossil fuels. Reaction with daylight ultraviolet (UV) rays and these precursors create ground-level ozone pollution (Tropospheric Ozone).
Ozone is known to have the following health effects at concentrations common in urban air:

  • Irritation of the respiratory system , causing coughing, throat irritation, and/or an uncomfortable sensation in the chest.
  • Reduced lung function, making it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously. Breathing may become more rapid and more shallow than normal, and a person’s ability to engage in vigorous activities may be limited.
  • Aggravation of asthma . When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention or use of medication. One reason this happens is that ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens , which in turn trigger asthma attacks.
  • Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections .
  • Inflammation and damage to the lining of the lungs. Within a few days, the damaged cells are shed and replaced much like the skin peels after a sunburn. Animal studies suggest that if this type of inflammation happens repeatedly over a long time period (months, years, a lifetime), lung tissue may become permanently scarred, resulting in permanent loss of lung function and a lower quality of life.

A statistical study of 95 large urban communities in the United States found significant association between ozone levels and premature death. The study estimated that a one-third reduction in urban ozone concentrations would save roughly 4000 lives per year (Bell et al., 2004). Tropospheric Ozone causes approximately 22,000 premature deaths per year in 25 countries in the European Union. (WHO, 2008)

Problem areas[ edit ]

Accuracy dispute
This article appears to contradict the article Ozone . Please see discussion on the linked talk page . (July 2007) ( Learn how and when to remove this template message )

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has developed an Air Quality index to help explain air pollution levels to the general public. 8-hour average ozone mole fractions of 76 to 95 nmol/mol are described as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”, 96 nmol/mol to 115 nmol/mol as “unhealthy” and 116 nmol/mol to 404 nmol/mol as “very unhealthy” [1] . The EPA has designated over 300 counties of the United States, clustered around the most heavily populated areas (especially in California and the Northeast), as failing to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards .

Climate change[ edit ]

Melting of sea ice releases molecular chlorine , which reacts with UV radiation to produce chlorine radicals. Because chlorine radicals are highly reactive, they can expedite the degradation of methane and tropospheric ozone and the oxidation of mercury to more toxic forms. [6] Ozone production rises during heat waves, because plants absorb less ozone. It is estimated that curtailed ozone absorption by plants is responsible for the loss of 460 lives in the UK in the hot summer of 2006. [7] A similar investigation to assess the joint effects of ozone and heat during the European heat waves in 2003, concluded that these appear to be additive. [8]

See also[ edit ]

  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Criteria air contaminants
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards (USA)
  • Ozone
  • Photochemical smog
  • Troposphere
  • Tropospheric ozone depletion events

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ “ Ground-Level Ozone” (PDF). Retrieved Jun 11, 2016.

  2. ^ Tuomi, T.; Engström, B.; Niemelä, R.; Svinhufvud, J.; Reijula, K. (August 2000). “Emission of ozone and organic volatiles from a selection of laser printers and photocopiers”. Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 15 (8): 629–634. doi : 10.1080/10473220050075635 . ISSN   1047-322X . PMID   10957818 .
  3. ^ “Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer” . Jet Propulsion Laboratory . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  4. ^ “NASA Goddard Ozone & Air Quality” . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  5. ^ Reeves, Claire .E.; Penkett, Stuart A.; Bauguitte, Stephane; Law, Kathy S.; Evans, Mathew J.; Bandy, Brian J.; Monks, Paul S.; Edwards, Gavin D.; Phillips, Gavin; Barjat, Hannah; Kent, Joss; Dewey, Ken; Schmitgen, Sandra; Kley, Dieter (2002). “Potential for photochemical ozone formation in the troposphere over the North Atlantic as derived from aircraft observationsduring ACSOE”. Journal of Geophysical Research. 107 (D23): 4707. Bibcode : 2002JGRD..107.4707R . doi : 10.1029/2002JD002415 .
  6. ^ Jin Liao; et al. (January 2014). “High levels of molecular chlorine in the Arctic atmosphere” . Nature Geoscience. 7: 91–94. Bibcode : 2014NatGe…7…91L . doi : 10.1038/ngeo2046 .
  7. ^ “It’s not just the heat – it’s the ozone: Study highlights hidden dangers” . University of York . Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  8. ^ Kosatsky T. (July 2005). “The 2003 European heat waves” . Eurosurveillance. 10 (7). Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  • Amann, Markus (2008). Health Risks of Ozone from Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution . WHO Regional Office Europe. ISBN   978-92-890-4289-5 .
  • Bell, M. L.; McDermott, A.; Zeger, S. L.; Samet, J. M.; Dominici, F. (2004). “Ozone and Short-term Mortality in 95 US Urban Communities, 1987–2000” . JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 292 (19): 2372. doi : 10.1001/jama.292.19.2372 . PMC   3546819 . PMID   15547165 .
  • Seinfeld, John H.; Pandis, Spyros N. (2016). Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Air Pollution to Climate Change (3rd ed.). Wiley. ISBN   978-1-119-22116-6 .
  • Wayne, Richard P (2000). Chemistry of Atmospheres (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-850375-X .

Further reading[ edit ]

  • Cooper, O.R.; Parrish, D.D.; et al. (2014). “Global distribution and trends of tropospheric ozone: An observation-based review” . Elementa: Science of the Anthropene. 2: 29. doi : 10.12952/journal.elementa.000029 .CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. ( link )

External links[ edit ]

  • The European Environment Agency’s near real-time ozone map (ozoneweb)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Information
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Live Ozone Map
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Regulation Information
  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research on ozone pollution
  • Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (satellite monitoring)
  • WHO-Europe reports: Health Aspects of Air Pollution (2002) (PDF) and ” Answer to follow-up questions from CAFE (2003) (PDF)
  • NASA’s Ozone Resource Page
  • [2] Canada-Wide Standards for particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (PDF)

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