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How much cleaner IS our air these days?

(File)
(File) (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Let me explain something about Ozone because you hear a LOT about it from the TV weatherfolks. Ozone is not necessarily the culprit in air pollution, but rather is easier to measure than the true culprit Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): one Nitrogen and two Oxygen molecules.

NO2 is the pollutant that vehicles emit into the air and sunlight breaks that down into NO and O, giving us a single oxygen molecule. As it happens, Oxygen doesn’t like to hang out by itself so that single O will go and find a regular O2, which is what we breathe. That turns it into an O3, or Ozone!

So when we have high Ozone being measured, what that tells us is that there is actually a lot of Nitrogen Dioxide being emitted and broken down. That, along with airborne particulates (soot, dust, smoke, etc), are the two pollutants we watch.

Using polar-orbiting satellites, NASA measured and released this week’s simple proof that our quarantine during March significantly improved our air quality.

Fewer cars = less pollution.

Check out this comparison of March 2019 and then March 2020.

March 2019
March 2019
March 2020
March 2020

Remarkable isn’t it?!

Airborne particulates have seen similar decreases:

March 2019
March 2019
March 2020
March 2020

So if there is any positive to all of this craziness right now, perhaps it’s that Mother Nature has had a bit of a reset regarding cleaner air (and most likely cleaner water). The NASA article is an interesting read and right here.

We’re learning a lot of lessons about how we can make a difference in the world. This is one of them.

Frank

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