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China’s War On Particulate Air Pollution Is Causing More Serve Ozone Pollution

China’s War On Particulate Air Pollution Is Causing More Serve Ozone Pollution

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  • GS 3 || Environment || Environment & Ecology || Pollution

Why in news?

  • China’s war on particulate air pollution is causing more severe ozone pollution 

Five Years’ Effect on Ozone

  • In early 2013, the Chinese government declared a war on air pollution and began instituting stringent policies to regulate the emissions of fine particulate matter, a pollutant known as PM 2.5.
  • Cities restricted the number of cars on the roads, coal-fired power plants reduced emissions or were shuttered and replaced with natural gas.
  • Over the course of five years, PM 2.5 concentrations in eastern China have fallen nearly 40%.

Researches in This Scenario

  • Researchers from the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology (NUIST), found something surprising: While PM 2.5 pollution is falling, harmful ground-level ozone pollution is on the rise, especially in large cities.
  • The researchers from SEAS and NUIST found that particulate matteracts like a sponge for the radicals needed to generate ozone pollution, sucking them up and preventing them from producing ozone.
  • There was so much particulate matter in Chinese cities that it stunted the ozone production.

Effects to Ozone

  • Ozone (O3) is formed through a series of chemical reactions, starting with the oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This reaction forms chemical radicals, which drives reactions among oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and VOCs to produce ozone in the presence of sunlight.
  • Both NOx and VOCs are emitted from fossil fuel combustion, and VOCs can also be emitted from industrial sources.
  • But the rapid reduction of PM 2.5 dramatically altered the chemistry of the atmosphere, leaving more radicals available to produce ozone.
  • There was so much particulate matter in Chinese cities that it stunted the ozone production.
  • “Results from this study suggest that extra efforts are needed to reduce NOx and VOC emissions in order to stem the tide of ozone pollution.
  • As PM 2.5 levels continue to fall, ozone is going to keep getting worse

Additional facts

  • Ozone Layer was discovered by Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913 (French, both of them).
  • Ozone is in the Stratosphere of the atmosphere.

Mains Question

  • Reduction in the level of Particulate matters will result into increase in the level of ground level ozone. Explain.