Come again?

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/188368_mtrainier28.html
The reason, he said, is that ozone — a combination of factory emissions and car exhaust “cooked together” with sunlight — consists largely of nitrogen oxide, which turns around once the sun goes down and destroys ozone.
Parse that sentence and tell me if I’m reading it right: ozone is self-destructive.
I thought ozone was molecules made up of 3 oxygen atoms…

4 thoughts on “Come again?”

  1. Ozone is not self destructive. Standard oxygen is O2 (imagine the 2 being a subscript), ozone is O3.
    NxOx (Nitrogen Oxide) is another huge byproduct of car exhausts, and that can take ozone and neutralise it when the sun goes down. (I imagine the NO gets an extra O and the ozone becomes normal oxygen – but you’d have to ask a chemist)
    But yeah, that sentance makes no sense as it is:
    The reason, he said, is that the pollution — a combination of factory emissions and car exhaust “cooked together” with sunlight — consists largely of nitrogen oxide along with the ozone, which reacts with the ozone once the sun goes down and destroys ozone.
    (Disclaimer, INAC – I’m Not A Chemist)

  2. There’s the technical, chemical definition of ozone, and then there’s the common definition that includes a lot of non-ozone gasses.
    His statement is largely correct.

  3. Technically, ozone is a very reactive molecule made of three oxygen atoms. It’s reactive because oxygen is strongly electronegative element and three strongly electronegative elements bound together gives a huge potential for the ozone molecule to steal electrons from less electronegative molecules, often splitting up into one regular oxygen molecule, and the third oxygen atom bound to the less electronegative molecule. Because of these properties, ozone at ground level is toxic and a pollution problem, while ozone at high altitude protects us from cosmic radiation. Ozone is naturally generated by UV radiation hitting oxygen molecules, splitting them into two unbound oxygen atoms. These two oxygen atoms are extremely reactive and will attack pretty much anything, including regular oxygen molecules, resulting in the formation of ozone. Ozone may also be generated by other high energy reactions, such as lightning, other electrical discharges, or in for example engines or industrial processes.

    High in the atmosphere the ozone is split when hit by UV radiation, thus generating again the single oxygen atom and the oxygen molecule, consuming the energy of the UV radiation and thus protecting us from it. However, if molecules like CFC are released in the atmosphere, UV radiation split them to form radicals, which then in turn split up the ozone, binding to the free oxygen atom. Then when encountering another free oxygen atom the oxygen atoms bind to form an oxygen molecule, and the radicals are released to begin the cycle again. This causes the UV radiation to again reach us, and creates so called ozone holes.

    Ground ozone, however, is mainly generated in sunlight driven reactions between nitrogen oxide or nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Main sources for these are pollution from traffic and industrial processes and electric utilities. However, when the sunlight disappears, nitrogen oxide will react with ozone to form nitrogen dioxide, thus reducing the nighttime ozone.

  4. The last time I was up at Paradise there was a display on air quality measurements at the mountain, and pictures of haze. Its really a beautiful place to visit, since you can see so far. The haze ruins all that.

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