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Smog is a type of air pollutant. The word "smog" was coined in the early 20th century as
a portmanteau of the words smoke and fog to refer to smoky fog, its opacity, and odour.[1] The word
was then intended to refer to what was sometimes known as pea soup fog, a familiar and serious
problem in London from the 19th century to the mid 20th century. This kind of visible air pollution is
composed of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, ozone, smoke or particulates among others (less
visible pollutants include carbon monoxide, CFCs and radioactive sources). Human-made smog is
derived from coal emissions, vehicular emissions, industrial emissions, forest and agricultural fires
and photochemical reactions of these emissions.
Modern smog, as found for example in Los Angeles, is a type of air pollution derived from vehicular
emission from internal combustion engines and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with
sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine with the primary emissions to
form photochemical smog. In certain other cities, such as Delhi, smog severity is often aggravated
by stubble burning in neighboring agricultural areas. The atmospheric pollution levels of Los
Angeles, Beijing, Delhi, Mexico City, Tehran and other cities are increased by inversion that traps
pollution close to the ground. It is usually highly toxic to humans and can cause severe sickness,
shortened life or death.

Coal fires, used to heat individual buildings or in a power-producing plant, can emit significant clouds
of smoke that contributes to smog. Air pollution from this source has been reported in England since
the Middle Ages. London, in particular, was notorious up through the mid-20th century for its coal-
caused smogs, which were nicknamed 'pea-soupers.' Air pollution of this type is still a problem in
areas that generate significant smoke from burning coal. The emissions from coal combustions are
one of the main causes of air pollution in China.[5] Especially during autumn and winter when coal-
fired heating ramps up, the amount of produced smoke forces some Chinese cities to close down
roads, schools or airports. One prominent example for this was China's Northeastern city Harbin in
Transportation emissions
Traffic emissions such as from trucks, buses, and automobiles also contribute.[6] Airborne by-
products from vehicle exhaust systems cause air pollution and are a major ingredient in the creation
of smog in some large cities.
The major culprits from transportation sources are carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NO and
NOx), volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbons. (Hydrocarbons are the main
components of petroleum fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuel.) These molecules react with
sunlight, heat, ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form the noxious vapors, ground
level ozone, and particles that comprise smog.[12][13]
Photochemical smog
Photochemical smog is the chemical reaction of sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic
compounds in the atmosphere, which leaves airborne particles and ground-level ozone.[16] This
noxious mixture of air pollutants may include the following:

Nitrogen oxides, particularly nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide
Peroxyacyl nitrates
Tropospheric ozone
Volatile organic compounds
A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted directly from a source. A secondary pollutant is not
directly emitted as such, but forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the
atmosphere. Examples of a secondary pollutant include ozone, which is formed when hydrocarbons
(HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine in the presence of sunlight; nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is
formed as nitric oxide (NO) combines with oxygen in the air; and acid rain, which is formed when
sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides react with water.[17] All of these harsh chemicals are usually highly
reactive and oxidizing. Photochemical smog is therefore considered to be a problem of modern
industrialization. It is present in all modern cities, but it is more common in cities with sunny, warm,
dry climates and a large number of motor vehicles.[18] Because it travels with the wind, it can affect
sparsely populated areas as well.
The composition and chemical reactions involved in photochemical smog were not understood until
the 1950s. In 1948, flavor chemist Arie Haagen-Smit adapted some of his equipment to collect
chemicals from polluted air, and identified ozone as a component of Los Angeles smog. Haagen-
Smit went on to discover that nitrous oxides from automotive exhausts and gaseous hydrocarbons
from cars and oil refineries, exposed to sunlight, were key ingredients in the formation of ozone and
photochemical smog. Haagen-Smit worked with Arnold Beckman, who developed various equipment
for detecting smog, ranging from an "Apparatus for recording gas concentrations in the atmosphere"
patented on October 7, 1952, to "air quality monitoring vans" for use by government and industry.
Natural causes
An erupting volcano can also emit high levels of sulphur dioxide along with a large quantity of
particulate matter; two key components to the creation of smog. However, the smog created as a
result of a volcanic eruption is often known as vog to distinguish it as a natural occurrence.
The radiocarbon content of some plant life has been linked to the distribution of smog in some areas.
For example, the creosote bush in the Los Angeles area has been shown to have an effect on smog
distribution that is more than fossil fuel combustion alone.[22]