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Heatwaves leading to ozone pollution

  • Published
    8th Sep, 2023
Context:

As per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Report, Climate change intensifies heatwaves, elevating wildfire risk and aggravating ozone pollution.

Highlights of the Report:

  • According to the report, Heatwaves and wildfires are closely linked and the Smoke from wildfires contains a lot of chemicals that affect not only air quality and health, but also damage plants, ecosystems, and crops — and leads to more carbon emissions and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Short-lived reactive gases such as nitrogen oxides and biogenic volatile organic compounds lead to the production of ozone and particulate matter (PM).
  • Concerns:
  • The increase in ozone levels impacted agriculture globally, with ozone-induced crop losses averaging 4.4 percent–12.4 percent for staples.
  • Losses for wheat and soybean were as high as 15 per cent-30 percent in key agricultural areas of India and China.

About Ozone:

  • Ozone (composed of three atoms of oxygen) occurs both in the Earth's upper atmosphere (stratosphere) and at ground level (troposphere). It can be good or bad, depending on where it is found:
  • Good Ozone: Ozone occurs naturally in the Earth's upper atmosphere (Stratosphere) where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.Ozone-depleting gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, and halons, destroy this protective shield and cause a hole in the ozone.
  • India had adopted the Kigali Amendment (aims to phase down hydrofluorocarbons).
  • Bad Ozone: In the Earth's lower atmosphere (troposphere) near ground level, ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight.
  • Surface level Ozone is a harmful air pollutant.

Impacts of Ozone Pollution

  • Surface level Ozone causes damage to crops and forests.
  • Irritation can occur in the respiratory system giving rise to coughs and an uncomfortable sensation in the chest.
  • Ozone worsens bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, etc. and increases the risk and susceptibility to pulmonary inflammation like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • It may reduce lung function and make breathing difficult.
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