A NASA satellite, orbiting the Earth for almost 10 years and studying the planet’s air quality, ozone layer and climate, has provided a brand new set of images which show a major reduction of air pollution all over the United States. The images that have appeared on the Ozone Monitoring Instrument, or OMI, installed on the satellite known as Aura, show that people who are living in major U.S. cities are breathing in less nitrogen dioxide. That is a yellowish brown toxic gas that has a nasty odor which may create respiratory problems. The lessening of air pollution, even with the increase in population and the total number of automobiles over the years, has been attributed by NASA’s scientists to better technology, economic change and brand new regulations.
Bryan Duncan, who works as an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, stated that even though the Earth’s air quality has definitely improved over the last few decades, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially with ozone. That is a major problem.
However Americans may be breathing better than they were just a decade ago. The below map helps show what Aura took pictures of. It brings in more detail how nitrogen dioxide has went down all over the U.S. The satellite was first launched back in 2004 and started to plot the concentrations of different pollutants on a map of the United States comparing information which was collected from 2005 to 2011. Duncan explained that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide were coded as yellow to red were considered unhealthy.
He added that the satellite just happened to be getting its information at the right time in order to be able to see such a large reduction in air pollution in the U.S. . It ended up being around 40 percent on average for nitrogen dioxide.
The majority of nitrogen dioxide is caused by power plants burning of coal and also cars using gasoline. Over the past 10 years, there have been numerous technologies that aided in the improvement of gas mileage and also nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants being removed from power plant exhaust towers have been started up all over America.
However the United States has a lot of room for improvement in its quality of air. The American Lung Association’s released a report this year which was entitled the 2014 State of the Air Report. It said that nearly 148 million people, almost 48 percent of the entire nation, reside where pollution levels are often too dangerous to breathe. That is an increase from the 2013 report.
Duncan stated that the lower levels of nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants in the air were detected over weekends when there were less cars on the roads. The EPA has stated there has been a slight increase of ozone since 2011. However NASA states that overall air pollution has went down even though human population and the number of vehicles on roads have went up. Duncan believes that such news is a rare chance to be able to actually share some good news for once. Most Americans believe their air quality is getting worse, but actually the opposite is true. The Aura satellite, orbiting the Earth for almost 10 years and studying the planet’s air quality, ozone layer and climate, has provided a brand new set of images which show a major reduction of air pollution all over the United States.
By Kimberly Ruble