Air Pollution

Human activities add a number of ingredients to the air:

Photochemical smog

In bright sunlight interact chemically to produce powerful oxidants like ozone (O3) and peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN).

These secondary pollutants are damaging to plant life and lead to the formation of photochemical smog. PAN is primarily responsible for the eye irritation so characteristic of this type of smog.

The figure outlines representative reactions leading to the formation of photochemical smog. Radicals are atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons. They are very reactive chemically.

The catalytic converter in automobile exhaust systems reduces air pollution by oxidizing hydrocarbons to CO2 and H2O and, to a lesser extent, converting nitrogen oxides to N2 and O2.
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5 July 2011