How can smog form? Influence on nature and health
Soot, fog, poor vision and breathing during the day are caused by smog. It is a combination of circumstances in which fresh air is not supplied by wind. It is a calm area, which means that substances and pollutants are increasingly concentrated. It normally occurs in large, busy cities with a lot of traffic and industry. What causes smog and how does it affect health?
How does smog form?
- What is formed?
- Traditional smog formation
- China: traffic, coal stoves and old-fashioned factories
- Health consequences
- The Great Smog 1952
- What can be done about it?
What is formed?
Smog can have several causes. It is divided according to the substances that are created by reactions in the atmosphere. This is because it concerns waste which will react as.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) comes from the combustion of gasoline. This mainly occurs along busy roads, especially when there is practically no wind. In the Netherlands it has consequences in the south with significant concentrations in the Randstad.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) comes from the combustion of fossil fuels. Think of oil, peat, coal at refineries and power plants. Steel production also causes an important share. Many Dutch companies have been made gas-neutral, whereby the release of the substance is captured. It is therefore relatively less common in our country.
Summer smog (O3) is caused by nitrogen oxides (can therefore be directly caused by traffic), but also organic gases (agriculture, farms, peatlands and swamps). These are released into the air and can accumulate during calm periods. When the sun is high and the influence is great, these gases will react to ozone.
Winter smog (PM10) or sulfur dioxide to mix together with suspended particles. On the one hand, this is caused by emissions of waste such as during transport, fertilization in agriculture and factories. On the other hand, there are also natural sources, such as volcanic ash (such as the Icelandic volcanic eruption under the Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which disrupted a large part of European air traffic). The particles and gases will react chemically so that it can occur.
Traditional smog formation
In the past there was not yet such activity, but it also happened. Especially in cities located in a valley or valley where the sun is shining, the chance of smog is high. The wind blows over the valley, as it were, while waste materials from combustion accumulate in the shelter and inversion occurs. The bad substances cannot escape until the wind starts to pick up. This phenomenon was and still occurs regularly. By expansion of factories during industrialization in the eighteenth century ?? powered by peat-fired turbines ?? a thick blanket has lain like soot over cities for a long time. Most famous is misty London. After the introduction of cleaner operating machines and factories, this has diminished. Instead, mobility has come in Europe as every citizen has one or more vehicles at his disposal. The fleet is still quite polluting, which means that a lot of gases add up to nature.
China: traffic, coal stoves and old-fashioned factories
A far-reaching problem is China. Both by the bourgeoisie and factories immense quantities of the aforementioned substances are brought into the environment. It results in brown cities, bad breathing and poor visibility. The concentrations can increase to such an extent that it is a health hazard to go outside. In that case it is literally suffocating. For those with money, sports complexes have been constructed, in which a clean climate is realized with overpressure. In this way, polluted air is always kept out.
If it occurs in our country, it is often about the least bad form of it. However, it can directly affect those with an allergy or asthmatic condition. However, if you come to large cities in a valley or where there is no wind, the accumulation can be dramatic. The inconvenience is enormous, especially in countries where coal is still extremely fueled. It significantly impairs respiration and can be potentially lethal in high concentrations. In addition, it can cause long-term breathing problems or lead to other conditions such as lung cancer. The degree of photosynthesis in plants is also affected, because less sunlight is absorbed and ozone affects leaf mouths.
The Great Smog 1952
In December 1952 the weather conditions were so unfavorable that a high pressure area and wind calm caused an inversion hood over London. Traffic and mainly the burning of coal and peat created a low-hanging thick fog, which also penetrated homes. It has taken care of more than 4,000 additional Londoners in 4 days. This therefore indicates that the problem can have major consequences, especially in those areas where it now occurs in serious form.
What can be done about it?
Technology stands for nothing and the solution must be sought there. Polluting elements must be eliminated by introducing clean emissions. This means that vehicles must have a hybrid, electric or hydrogen-powered engine. Emitting factories must recover energy from vapors, separate gases for reuse and filter things further. The possibilities are there, but in some overcrowded cities it requires intensive and large-scale investment. Because it is for the good health of the collective and for a clean future, the step to be taken is necessary. The course must change for a clean and sustainable society.