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GROUND LEVEL OZONE AND ITS IMPACT

GROUND LEVEL OZONE AND ITS IMPACT

The stratosphere and the troposphere are the two layers of the atmosphere where the reactive gas ozone (O3) is found.

Ozone shields Earth's life from the sun's UV radiation in the stratosphere. In contrast, it is a significant greenhouse gas and air pollutant at lower concentrations of the atmosphere,which is bad for the wellbeing of people and ecosystems. It contributes significantly to urban smog as well.

The atmospheric lifetime of tropospheric or ground level ozone, a climatic pollutant, ranges from hours to weeks.

How does ground-level ozone form?

Instead of being directly released into the atmosphere, tropospheric ozone is produced by chemical interactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic molecules (VOC). When sunlight is present, pollutants released from factories, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, and other sources undergo chemical reactions.

On hot, bright days in metropolitan settings, ozone is more likely to reach harmful levels, while it can still do so at high levels in the winter. Even rural regions can experience high ozone levels because ozone can be transported over great distances by wind.

Lessening methane emissions and reducing air pollution from human-made sources, such as agriculture and the production and distribution of fossil fuels, are the main goals of strategies to prevent the creation of tropospheric ozone.

Primary Sources of Tropospheric Ozone:Ozone is produced in the troposphere as a result of a multitude of precursor pollutants that come from both natural and artificial sources. Hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides are examples of precursor pollutants produced by human activity. These pollutants are mostly released by automobiles and other vehicles, fossil fuel power plants, oil refineries, the agricultural industry, as well as a variety of other businesses.

Effects of Tropospheric ozone

  • Impact on climate:Ozone is a potent greenhouse gas because it absorbs radiation. In addition to contributing to climate change, tropospheric ozone has an impact on evaporation rates, cloud formation, precipitation amounts, and atmospheric circulation. These effects disproportionately affect the Northern Hemisphere because they mostly occur in areas where tropospheric ozone precursors are released. 
  • Impact on Health:One of the main causes of smog, tropospheric ozone, which can aggravate bronchitis and emphysema, cause asthma attacks, and irreversibly harm lung tissue. An estimated one million premature deaths occur each year as a result of exposure to tropospheric ozone. The negative effects of ozone on health are particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and those with lung or cardiovascular conditions. 
  • Impact on Agriculture and Ecosystem:
  • Tropospheric ozone, a highly reactive oxidant, drastically lowers crop yield as well as vegetation's ability to absorb atmospheric carbon. Plants that are exposed to it experience stunted growth and seed production, decreased leaf functional area, and accelerated aging. 
  • By preventing plants from opening the tiny pores on their leaves to breathe, ozone harms vegetation and ecosystems. It hinders photosynthesis by limiting the amount of carbon dioxide that plants can convert to oxygen and emit.
  • Numerous plant species, including trees, grassland species, and agricultural crops, have been proven in studies to be sensitive to ozone. These consequences have an influence on the vital ecosystem services that plants provide, such as the generation of food, the storage of carbon, the production of wood, and the prevention of soil erosion, avalanches, and flooding. 

Some government efforts to tackle the Bad Ozone or the ground level ozone are as follows:

  • Switching from BS-IV to BS-VI certified automobiles.
  • Burning of trash is forbidden.
  • Launching of Graded Response and Action Strategy (GRAP)
  • The National Clean Air Programme has begun (NCAP).
  • Establishing a network of monitoring stations to measure ambient air quality at 779 locations, including 339 cities spread throughout 29 states and six union territories

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