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Threatening Air Quality due to Climate Change by City Tech Blogger Matheus Figueroa

It is no surprise we are living in a warmer planet. Sufficient amount of studies and data can prove the correlation between rising temperatures and the direct cause of this increase, which ultimately points back to us. We continue to face hotter summers year by year, with a stagnant air mass that surrounds us, trapped within the bounds of the troposphere. This specific air mass does not move and will cause further developmental risks that pose a threat to children, elderly, as well as those who already are pre-disposed to having lung problems or cardiovascular problems. The “Ozone Season”, is a period in the year where we monitor pollution levels within the ground level of the ozone. Of the 244 locations within the nation tested, there have been 54 cities with a high concentration of polluted ozone, which is the air we breathe on a daily basis.

The ozone’s we are concerned with and what we are probably familiar with, because they’re the most immediate, are the troposphere and the stratosphere. The stratosphere is essentially there to protect the entire world from harmful ultraviolet radiation given off by the sun. The layer below that is the troposphere or “ground-level ozone”. This layer is made up by the byproduct of pollutants that consist of mainly nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) and is what we breathe on a daily basis. This pollution is caused by emissions from industrial building emitting smoke, cars that run on fossil fuels, and other man made pollutant. This ozone does not travel up to the stratosphere, rather, it stays within our ground-level ozone and becomes what we breath, this can also be known as smog and it is popular in most industrialized cities. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been monitoring and tracking the average number of unhealthy ozone days since 2000. This statistic has been recorded for a period of 19 years with 244 cities. The purpose of this monitoring is to make sure we do not exceed emission requirements that is mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1970, which is a federal law to control the amount of air pollution on a national level. Data shows that air quality has improved since these studies were done, however, 54 cities have proved that they have been stagnant in this process. California is one of the worst states when it comes to air quality. Palm Springs had an average of 130 unhealthy ozone days per year, while Los Angeles had 103 unhealthy days per year. This can be a potential threat to long-term air quality improvement.

We refer to the period of time when we monitor the ground-level ozone as “Ozone Seasons”. This is typically done when the concentration of pollutant reaches its highest levels. Depending where you reside these seasons can last up to 12 months. Summer, is a particular cause for concern as very hot days act as a good conductor for NOx and VOC to create a stronger concentration of ground-level ozone. Hot weather tends to trap in pollutants in what is called stagnation. What this means is that an air mass is staying still in a particular area, and with our case, it’s polluted air. Just being exposed to these stagnation periods, according the American Lung Association, you are able to develop respiratory problems, cardiovascular damage, and as well as lung infections. Children are more susceptible to this as they have found that developing children tend to be much more active than adults and spend most of their time outside consuming a higher amount of “ozone” pollutants.

It should be more and more apparent to everyone how our world, as a whole, is transforming constantly and when global warming is concerned, it’s not moving in the right direction. This blame has to go predominately to ourselves as we allowed this to happen while our industrialization revolution came about. However, there is still much that can be done and needs to be done in order to revert this process. As our world moves towards greener initiative, it is our responsibility, as individuals, to take part in the greener movement as well.


Source: https://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-change-is-threatening-air-quality-across-the-country-2019


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