Earth and Moon

Atmospheric pollution

Atmospheric pollution

Astronauts return from their trips with a new mentality that makes them feel more respect for the Earth and better understand the need to take care of it. From space you can not see the borders and, much less, economic interests, but some of its devastating effects, such as pollution of the atmosphere.

85% of the air is near the Earth, in the troposphere, a very thin layer of only 15 km. The highest layers of the atmosphere have little air, but protect us from ultraviolet rays (ozone layer) and meteorites (ionosphere). The gases that we have poured into the atmosphere have left the Earth in an unfortunate state.

The photos taken by the first astronauts are much clearer than the current ones, although we now have more sophisticated devices. Humans are able to destroy in a short time what nature has taken thousands of years to create.

Every year, industrial countries generate millions of tons of pollutants. The most frequent and widely dispersed air pollutants are carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, carbon dioxide or suspended particles.

The level is usually expressed in terms of atmospheric concentration (micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter of air) or, in the case of gases, in parts per million, that is, the number of pollutant molecules per million air molecules.

Many pollutants come from easily identifiable sources; Sulfur dioxide, for example, comes from power plants that burn coal or oil. Others are formed by the action of sunlight on reactive materials previously emitted into the atmosphere (the so-called precursors). For example, ozone, a dangerous pollutant that is part of smog, is produced by the interaction of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides under the influence of sunlight. Ozone has also produced serious crop damage.

On the other hand, the discovery in the 1980s that some atmospheric pollutants, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are producing a decrease in the protective ozone layer of the planet has led to a gradual suppression of these products.

Air pollution is one of the environmental problems that spreads most rapidly since atmospheric currents can transport polluted air to all corners of the globe. The gases that are released into the atmosphere produce harmful effects on atmospheric patterns and affect the health of people, animals and plants.

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The circulation of the atmosphere