When does a naturally occurring gas or aerosol become a pollutant?
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas within our atmosphere, and yet it is considered a pollutant as well. We here a great deal about the hole in the ozone and how critical our ozone layer is to life on earth.... yet smog is primarily made up of Ozone. Comments?
There is more to the loss of the Ozone than simply carbon dioxide. There are fluorocarbons and many other contributors. There is a natural balance of gasses that are used and replaced by the exchange between animals, plants and the atmospheric conditions (weather). "Don't fool with mother nature."
A pollutant is something that upsets the natural balance, and you have raised two or three separate issues here:
1. CO2 is a naturally occuring component of the atmosphere, but too much in the atmosphere is thought to contribute to global warming, hence CO2 emissions are seen as a pollutant.
2. Ozone is an oxygen molecule, O3, that is created naturally in the upper atmosphere and forms the ozone layer which helps to block harmful UV rays from the sun, so a hole in the ozone layer could be a problem. It was supposed that man-made chemicals such as CFCs were making the hole larger, but I think it has improved more quickly than was expected since CFCs were banned.
3. Ozone at ground level is the result of man-made pollution such as car exhausts, and this is what causes smog.
These issues are quite complex, but it is important to understand the basic science behind them if we want to do our best to protect our planet and the life on it. I have heard both sides of the story concerning global warming, my science degree taught me that it was man-made, but I have also listened to some more radical thinkers who believe it is all a concoction of big businesses to manipulate the markets regarding oil prices etc. and that global warming is happening because of natural cycles, sunspots etc.
Whatever you believe, it is in all our best interests to cut down on pollution wherever we can and look after the environment that we depend upon for our existence.
Many great points here all concerning the issues you raised however your basic question is my focus here. When does a gas become a pollutant? When you think on a broader scale and notice how everything even plastic originates from a natural substance and then is manipulated by man's devices and then becomes a completely different form herein lies your answer. Nature is balanced and gases are processed until man devices a new form. This is usually when things become toxic to both man and earth. As in the case of plastic. Natural form manipulated and now is toxic to both man and earth. Same with gases. Once the compunds are changed it becomes a new matter. This point is when gases become polutants. Whether the new matter is toxic or not this point of change in compounds is the answer to your question. I look forward to your thoughts. Thank you for your question I am sure a lot of minds have been opened and focused on the cause and the point where we need to focus on to make our world healthier. The answer lies in nature so why can't we see that the closer to nature we are the better? I think the minds of men are great but the direction of men is horrid. We need to learn from the Great Mother and stop trying to change and progress. We are only digressing when we fall from the loving balance we were provided to care for. Thank you for focusing our great minds. :-)
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