Something Positive

NASA satellite images show a decrease in air pollution across the United States. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument shows that individuals across the United States are inhaling less nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is a harmful yellow-brown gas. Nitrogen Dioxide has the ability to harm an individual’s respiratory system, but it also plays a role in the creation of other harmful pollutants (ozone and particulate matter), which put human health at risk.

Where does nitrogen dioxide come from? Nitrogen Dioxide is typically produced from gasoline in motor vehicle engines or coal from power plants.

How is air pollution decreasing if the number of cars and people has increased? Air pollution is decreasing due to new protocols, technologies, and economic changes.

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Air pollution across the USA 2005-2011

In addition, data on New York City shows a 32% decrease in nitrogen dioxide between 2005 and 2011. Because New York City is highly populated, more air pollution is expected to exist. However, satellite images disprove the correlation between high population and high air pollution.

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Air pollution NYC 2005-2011

Although there have been significant improvements in terms of air pollution, there are still a lot of improvements to be made. Approximately 142 million people in the United States still live in areas with bad air pollution.

What else is being done? Discover- AQ is a multi-year mission, which is lead by NASA and located in Denver. It is being used to learn more about air pollutants viewed from satellites and understand the direct impact that air pollution has on people. This has also been done in Maryland, Washington D.C, California, and Texas in previous years.

The images from the NASA satellite show significant results regarding air pollution. It’s amazing how the satellite allows us to track air pollution so accurately. I think it would be interesting to put all of the images together from the satellite and create an art exhibit of air pollution over time! Even printing these images on t-shirts might educate, impact, and influence people all over the world to make changes to the environment.

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