Climate change may worsen summertime ozone pollution
Ozone pollution across the United States will become more difficult to keep in check as temperatures rise, according to new research results. The study shows that Americans face the risk of a 70 percent increase in unhealthy summertime ozone levels by 2050. The results appear online this week in a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy. Warmer temperatures and other changes in the atmosphere related to a changing climate, including higher atmospheric levels of methane, spur chemical reactions that increase overall levels of ozone.
Unlike ozone in the stratosphere, which benefits life on Earth by blocking ultraviolet radiation from the sun, ground-level ozone can trigger a number of health problems. These range from coughing and throat irritation to more serious aggravation of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Even short periods of unhealthy ozone levels can cause local death rates to rise. Ozone pollution also damages crops and other plants.