Photochemical Smog effect is a phenomenon that occurs in the environment as a result of an interaction between the sun’s rays and the air pollution in the atmosphere that surrounds us.
In addition to having a detrimental effect on human vision, photochemical pollution has both a direct and an indirect influence on the human body’s health.
In today’s edition of “Know Your Facts,” we are going to discuss a more in-depth explanation of the photochemical smog effect, including how it originates and what steps can be taken to eliminate it. Read and enjoy.
What is a Smog?
Before we go into the photochemical smog effect, let’s have a conversation about what smog actually is. Smog is a mixture of smoke and pollution that most commonly forms in urban areas with high levels of both.
With the combination of two words (Smoke + Fog = Smog), people in the early 1900s had their first contact with the condition brought on by increasing industrialization.
The status of smog can be broken down into two primary groups.
- Classical Smog Effect
- Photochemical Smog Effect
On the other hand, these two smog effects each have their own impact, which is derived from the current state of the seasons.
1. Classical Smog Effect
The burning of fossil fuels was the primary contributor to the development of classic smoke, which is sometimes referred to as winter smog or London smog.
In the winter, in addition to the fuel that was used for vehicles, a significant amount of coal and other fuel was used to keep the temperature inside the building at a comfortable level.
Smog is formed when the principal air pollutant sulfur dioxide that is released during these combustion processes combines with the smoke that is produced.
Because of the extreme low-temperature conditions that exist throughout the winter, classic smog can occur at any time of day or night without any distinction.
2. Photochemical Smog Effect
On the other hand, photochemical smog, sometimes referred to as summer smog or Los Angeles smog, is produced when ultraviolet radiation from the sun interacts with the primary pollutant of NOx (nitrogen Oxides), and secondary pollutants of ozone, peroxyacetyl nitrates (PAN), and volatile organic compounds that are present in the smoke.
This process is known as photochemical smog. During the warmer months of the year, when there is more daylight available, there is an increased risk of photochemical smog.
In contrast to traditional smog, the brownish haze that characterizes summer smog is most prevalent during the morning and afternoon periods.
What Are the Main Sources Behind the Photochemical Smog Effect?
As was said before, all of the sources that lead to the formation of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, PANs, and ozone are responsible for the photochemical smog effect when sunshine is present. Here are several reasons behind these air pollutants.
1. Power Plants
Power plants around the world are one of the primary contributors to the release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, which is the primary cause of the photochemical smog effect.
Certain hydrocarbons, such as soprene and isoprene, which are emitted by these plants react very swiftly in the atmosphere with hydroxyl radicals, which ultimately results in the formation of ozone.
2. Volcanoes Eruption
In their natural state, volcanoes contain sources such as sulfur, which, when they erupt, result in the production of a great deal of sulfur dioxide gas as well as particulate matter.
When dust particles and SO2 interact with one another, smog is produced as a byproduct.
In most cases, the period of the year during which there is an increased amount of sunshine falling coincides with the season of wildfires.
When there is a greater release of particulate matter into the atmosphere, there is a greater likelihood of smog being produced by wildfires.
4. Vehicle Exhaust
At an earlier stage in the production of the fuel for automobiles, a larger level of sulfur was contained, which obviously led to sulfur dioxide being produced.
Internal combustion engines are another major contributor to the production of nitrogen oxides, along with sulfur ( generation of ozone).
Due to increased emissions from automobiles, this contribution has increased in a relatively short amount of time, which contributes to the formation of photochemical haze all over the world.
5. Industrial Exhaust
Smog and other dangerous air pollutants like ozone, VOCs, hydrocarbons, and PANs are caused in large part by industrial emissions, which account for the majority of NOx and SOx that are released into the atmosphere.
What Are the Health Effects of Photochemical Smog Effect?
The majority of people who are not directly exposed to smog think of morning fog as being quite normal. But the photochemical smog effect is a serious disease that can lead to a range of health problems.
Children, the elderly, and those who already have respiratory issues are particularly vulnerable to the effects of this illness.
Typical manifestations of being exposed to smog.
- Burning eyes
- Itchy in the nose
- Intolerable itching in the airways
- Breathing that is either rapid or shallow
- Unease experienced during the act of breathing
- Discomfort all across the chest area generally
In addition to these medical conditions, smog can also induce more serious illnesses, which in turn can lead to negative and long-term consequences. The identities of only a few of them can be determined.
- Low birth weight
- Premature death by respiratory issues
- Birth defects
- Alzheimer risks
- Heart diseases
- Chronic respiratory diseases
Therefore, in any kind of poor smog situation in the area, appropriate precautions need to be done in order to protect oneself and keep one’s loved ones safe in the environment.
What Are Precautions We Can Take?
The following are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing major medical disorders as a result of the photochemical smog effect.
- Stay up to date on the current air quality in your region by using AQI (Air Quality Index)
- Limit your time spent outside in locations known to have high levels of air pollution, such as high-traffic or high-industrial zones.
- Invest in an air purifier to maintain a satisfactory level of air quality inside your home.
- Protect yourself from the environment by donning a standard face mask.
- When you are driving, make sure that your car’s shutter is closed, and always maintain the inside of your car clean.
- Decrease the amount that you contribute to smog by avoiding actions that result in the development of air pollutants on a household level.
- In the event of an emergency, be sure to follow the health rules for the region.