Burning of fossil fuels raises chemicals into the air that react on earth’s surfaces.
Under the circumstances, this previously unknown chemistry could account for up to 40 parts per billion of ozone – nearly half of California’s legal limit on outdoor air pollution.
Ozone can cause coughing, throat irritation, chest pain and shortness of breath. Exposure to it has been linked to asthma, bronchitis, cardiopulmonary problems and premature death.
“Realistically, this phenomenon probably accounts for much less than 40 parts per billion, but our results show it could be significant. We should be monitoring it and incorporating it into atmospheric models,” said Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and lead author of the study. “We still don’t really understand important elements of the atmosphere’s chemistry.”
UCI scientists explained; when nitrogen oxides combine with hydrochloric acid from airborne sea salt on buildings, roads and other particles in the air, highly reactive chlorine atoms are created that speed up smog formation.
The study was undertaken by scientists involved with AirUCI, an Environmental Molecular Sciences Institute funded by the National Science Foundation. UCI’s Jonathan Raff conducted experiments; Bosiljka Njegic and Benny Gerber made theoretical predictions; and Wayne Chang and Donald Dabdub did the modeling. Mark Gordon of Iowa State University also helped with theory.
Source: Science Daily