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Published by Colby Riddle

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Published by: Colby Riddle on May 01, 2012
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Tropospheric Ozone = Low Ozone = Bad Ozone Ozone Defined: Small concentrations of ozone occur naturally in the stratosphere

, which is part of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. At that level, ozone helps to protect life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun, particularly UVB radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts, damage crops, and destroy some types of marine life. Ozone is created in the stratosphere when ultraviolet light from the sun splits an oxygen molecule into two single oxygen atoms. Each of those oxygen atoms then binds with an oxygen molecule to form an ozone molecule. Depletion of stratospheric ozone poses serious health risks for humans and environmental hazards for the planet, and many nations have banned or limited the use of chemicals that contribute to ozone depletion. Ozone is also found much nearer the ground, in the troposphere, the lowest level of Earth’s atmosphere. Unlike the ozone that occurs naturally in the stratosphere, tropospheric ozone is manmade, an indirect result of air pollution created by automobile exhaust and emissions from factories and power plants. When gasoline and coal are burned, nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) are released into the air. During the warm, sunny days of spring, summer and early fall, NOx and VOC are more likely to combine with oxygen and form ozone. During those seasons, high concentrations of ozone are often formed during the heat of the afternoon and early evening, and are likely to dissipate later in the evening as the air cools. Human Effects (03): Tropospheric ozone(03), an oxidant pollutant, primarily targets the human respiratory system. Respiratory tract responses induced by ozone (03) include reduction in lung function, aggravation of preexisting respiratory disease (such as asthma), increased daily hospital admissions, and emergency department visits for respiratory causes, and excess mortality. The degree of adverse respiratory effects produced by ozone depends on several factors, including concentration and duration of exposure, climate characteristics, individual sensitivity, preexistent respiratory disease, and in some cases, socioeconomic status (1). Four groups of people are particularly sensitive to ozone when they are active outdoors: children, healthy adults doing outdoor exercise, people with preexistent respiratory disease, and the elderly (1). Ecosystem Effects (03): Tropospheric ozone (03) is one of the most significant and damaging airborne pollutants to plant life. Therefore, it is known as a powerful "phytotoxin." Symptoms of plant damage can appear as early as one day after high exposure of several hours. Noticeable effects to the leaves of crops include changes in shape, discoloration, and necrosis (i.e., cell death). More subtle effects include reductions in plant size and weight, because ozone pollution can decrease a plant's ability to perform photosynthesis. Ozone pollution also takes its toll on forests. Increased concentrations of ozone pollution are the primary cause of the decline in pines in southern California and the eastern United States. Ozone pollution has also been considered as the primary cause of many declining European forests (2). Sources: (1) The Impact of Tropospheric Ozone Pollution on Plants, Penn State University, University Park, PA http://membrane.com/trees/ozone_plants.html (2) Ozone Health Effect, Marian Fierro, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ http://coep.pharmacy.arizona.edu/air/air_quality/OZONE.pdf

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