Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Wildfires Cause Ozone Pollution to Violate Health Standards

13.10.2008
Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate U.S. health standards, a new study concludes.

The research, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), focused on California wildfires in 2007, finding that they repeatedly caused ground-level ozone to spike to unhealthy levels across a broad area, including much of rural California as well as neighboring Nevada.

The study was published today in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR.

"It's important to understand the health impacts of wildfires," says NCAR scientist Gabriele Pfister, the lead author. "Ozone can hit unhealthy levels even in places where people don't see smoke."

Although scientists have long known that wildfires can affect air quality by emitting particles and gases into the air, there has been little research to quantify the impacts. Fires worsen ozone levels by releasing nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, which can form ozone near the fire or far downwind as a result of chemical reactions in sunlight.

The researchers, using a combination of computer models and ground-level measurements, studied intense California wildfires that broke out in September and October of 2007. They found that ozone was three times more likely to violate safe levels when fire plumes blew into a region than when no plumes were present.

At the time of the wildfires, the public health standard for ozone set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was 0.08 parts per million over an eight-hour period. The EPA has since tightened the standard to 0.075 parts per million. Under the stricter standard, the number of violations would have nearly doubled.

While ozone in the stratosphere benefits life on Earth by blocking ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, ozone in the lower atmosphere can trigger a number of health problems. These range from coughing and throat irritation to more serious problems, such as aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Ground-level ozone pollution also damages crops and other plants.

"Wildfires are expected to worsen in the future, especially as our climate grows warmer," Pfister says. "But we are only now beginning to understand their potential impacts on people and ecosystems, not only nearby but also potentially far downwind."

Rural impacts

The unhealthy levels of ozone the researchers detected occurred mostly in rural areas. This finding may be a result of the computer modeling, which lacked the fine detail to zoom in on relatively compact urban areas. However, the authors also speculate that wildfire emissions have a greater impact on ozone levels in the countryside than on cities. The reason has to do with chemistry. Cities tend to have more nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that can, at high levels, reduce the efficiency with which ozone is produced or even destroy ozone.

"The impact of wildfires on ozone in suburban and rural areas, far from urban sources of pollution, was quite noticeable," says NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer, a co-author of the paper.

The paper notes that ozone levels would likely have been even greater except that Santa Ana winds in October blew wildfire plumes over the Pacific Ocean, safely away from populated areas.

Tracking the emissions

To measure the impact of the fires on ozone formation, the researchers turned to a pair of computer models developed at NCAR. With the first one, a specialized fire model, they estimated the amount of vegetation burned and resulting emissions of nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants. Those results went into a global air chemistry model that simulated the movement of the emissions and evolving chemistry and tracked the resulting formation of ozone as the fire plumes spread downwind.

The scientists compared their modeling results with ozone measurements from a network of EPA ground stations at various sites in California. This enabled them to determine both the number of ozone violations and the extent to which the wildfires contributed to those violations. It also enabled them to verify the accuracy of the model.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Gabriele Pfister, NCAR Scientist
303-497-2915
pfister@ucar.edu

David Hosansky | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucar.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks
18.06.2018 | Kyushu University, I2CNER

nachricht Decades of satellite monitoring reveal Antarctic ice loss
14.06.2018 | University of Maryland

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 in Shanghai

Die AchemAsia geht in ihr viertes Jahrzehnt und bricht auf zu neuen Ufern: Das International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production findet vom 21. bis 23. Mai 2019 in Shanghai, China statt. Gleichzeitig erhält die Veranstaltung ein aktuelles Profil: Die elfte Ausgabe fokussiert auf Themen, die für Chinas Prozessindustrie besonders relevant sind, und legt den Schwerpunkt auf Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation.

1989 wurde die AchemAsia als Spin-Off der ACHEMA ins Leben gerufen, um die Bedürfnisse der sich damals noch entwickelnden Iindustrie in China zu erfüllen. Seit...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: Li-Fi erstmals für das industrielle Internet der Dinge getestet

Mit einer Abschlusspräsentation im BMW Werk München wurde das BMBF-geförderte Projekt OWICELLS erfolgreich abgeschlossen. Dabei wurde eine Li-Fi Kommunikation zu einem mobilen Roboter in einer 5x5m² Fertigungszelle demonstriert, der produktionsübliche Vorgänge durchführt (Teile schweißen, umlegen und prüfen). Die robuste, optische Drahtlosübertragung beruht auf räumlicher Diversität, d.h. Daten werden von mehreren LEDs und mehreren Photodioden gleichzeitig gesendet und empfangen. Das System kann Daten mit mehr als 100 Mbit/s und fünf Millisekunden Latenz übertragen.

Moderne Produktionstechniken in der Automobilindustrie müssen flexibler werden, um sich an individuelle Kundenwünsche anpassen zu können. Forscher untersuchen...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: ALMA entdeckt Trio von Baby-Planeten rund um neugeborenen Stern

Neuartige Technik, um die jüngsten Planeten in unserer Galaxis zu finden

Zwei unabhängige Astronomenteams haben mit ALMA überzeugende Belege dafür gefunden, dass sich drei junge Planeten im Orbit um den Säuglingsstern HD 163296...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industrie & Wirtschaft
Veranstaltungen

Simulierter Eingriff am virtuellen Herzen

18.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Künstliche Intelligenz – Schafft der Mensch seine Arbeit ab?

15.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Internationale Konferenz zur Asteroidenforschung in Garching

13.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

VideoLinks
Wissenschaft & Forschung
Weitere VideoLinks im Überblick >>>
 
Aktuelle Beiträge

Neuer Abwehrmechanismus gegen Sauerstoffradikale entdeckt

18.06.2018 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Umwandlung von nicht-neuronalen Zellen in Nervenzellen

18.06.2018 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Im Fußballfieber: Rittal Cup verspricht Spannung und Spaß

18.06.2018 | Unternehmensmeldung

Weitere B2B-VideoLinks
IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics