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Gifted Chemistry IBAlternative AssessmentPhotochemical SmogHistorically the term smog referred to a mixture of smoke and fog hence the name smogThe industrial revolution has been the central cause for the increase in pollutants in theatmosphere over the last three centuries Before 1950 the majority of this pollution wascreated from the burning of coal for energy generation space heating cooking andtransportation Under the right conditions the smoke and sulfur dioxide produced from theburning of coal can combine with fog to create industrial smog In high concentrationsindustrial smog can be extremely toxic to humans and other living organisms London isworld famous for its episodes of industrial smog The most famous London smog eventoccurred in December 1952 when five days of calm foggy weather created a toxic atmospherethat claimed about 4000 human lives Today the use of other fossil fuels nuclear powerand hydroelectricity instead of coal has greatly reduced the occurrence of industrialsmog However the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline can create another atmosphericpollution problem known as photochemical smog Photochemical smog is a condition thatdevelops when primary pollutants oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compoundscreated from fossil fuel combustion interact under the influence of sunlight to produce amixture of hundreds of different and hazardous chemicals known as secondary pollutantsDevelopment of photochemical smog is typically associated with specific climaticconditions and centers of high population density Cities like Los Angeles New YorkSydney and Vancouver frequently suffer episodes of photochemical smogOne way in which the production of photochemical smog is initiated is through thephotochemical reaction of nitrogen dioxide NO2 to form ozone There are many sources ofphotochemical smog including vehicle engines the number one cause of photochemicalsmog industrial emissions and area sources the loss of vapors from small areas such asa local service station surface coatings and thinners and natural gas leakageVehicle engines which are extremely numerous in all parts of the world do not completelyburn the petroleum they use as fuel This produces nitrogen dioxide which is releasedthrough the vehicle
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