Smog

Smog has no redeeming properties. It irritates the eyes, damages the lungs, may be a synergistic factor in lung and cardiovascular disease, it slows the growth or kills plants and damages or stains buildings, bridges and monuments. Specialists have written much about the hazards of smog. "'12 They agree any method to reduce or eliminate it would be beneficial to all and harmful to none. Fortunately, most smog will quickly disappear when the combustion of fossil fuels is stopped.

If fossil fuels were composed of 100% pure carbon and hydrogen and all combustion processes operated with 100% chemical efficiency there would be no smog. The only combustion products would be water and carbon dioxide. These two substances are natural components of the atmosphere. They are non-toxic and transparent to visible light. Smog is produced by the reaction of the products of incomplete combustion with other natural and man made substances in the atmosphere.

In the ambient atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen do not react. At the high temperatures generated by combustion process, they react to form nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides are poisonous and are major contributors to the chemical reactions that generate smog. Some of the products of complete combustion of fuel impurities, such as sulfur dioxide, are also involved in smog production.

In real combustion processes chemical reactions fail to go to completion. As a result, when hydrocarbons are burned a multitude of organic compounds are dumped to the air through the system exhaust. Some of these compounds are the result of fuel passing through the combustion zone without reacting. Some of the fuel is partially broken down into simple organic compounds like methane, ethane, ethylene and carbon soot. Other components of the fuel are partially oxidized to produce unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and organic acids. Some components react

http://www.cnn.coni/2000/HEALTH/06/30/health.smog/index.html

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among themselves to produce complex aromatic compounds. Many of these aromatic compounds are known carcinogens. 14,15

As previously noted, the high temperature of the combustion process causes the nitrogen and oxygen in the air to react to produce nitrogen oxides. The non-carbon (elements) impurities in the fuels react to form oxides; sulfur dioxide is the primary hazardous product, but others such as selenium dioxide and arsenic trioxide are also produced. Mercury is released as vapor. When vented from the combustion zones this complex mixture of compounds blends with the air. Under the influence of sunlight, it continues to react to produce the complex product, smog. 17

Smog is not a persistent pollutant. Natural processes, particularly rain, tend to continuously remove the smog chemicals from the air. The smog problems we experience are the result of continuous production of the smog raw materials by the combustion of hydrocarbons. When the cleaning process generated by the weather is rapid, smog does not build to high levels. Cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York often have weather that blows away or removes the chemicals rapidly so the smog builds to an objectionable level only part of the time. These cities are only plagued by smog when weather conditions stagnate and the air stays in one place for extended periods. In Los Angeles, Denver and Tokyo the smog production overpowers the slow natural cleaning process allowing smog to build to dangerous levels. If hydrocarbon combustion were stopped, the air would be cleared by weather's natural cleansing process. In cities with good air, circulation the cleaning of the air will take only a few days. In Los Angeles and Tokyo, cities with poor air circulation, the process would be completed in a few weeks.

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