Air quality in San Diego highest since measuring began in 1955
Along with today’s launch of a new atmosphere-measuring satellite into orbit, NASA has released information from a currently-operating space measuring device, called Aura, showing just how much our air quality has improved. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument of the Aura satellite has shown that there has been a decrease of 40% in the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air, throughout the U.S., from 2005 to 2011.
This chemical compound is usually produced through the oxidation of fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal. It is known to harm the lungs and produce adverse effects on everyone, but especially the very young, the very old, and those with respiratory problems. In the years since 2005, strident regulations by the EPA have resulting in significant improvements in two areas concerned with air quality as it relates to nitrogen dioxide pollution: the lessening of the compound that is produced by coal-burning power plants, and the efficiency of the automobiles burning the gasoline, resulting in improved gas mileage.
Despite the increase in certain factors that contribute to pollutants, such as population and the higher numbers of cars on the road, air quality has continued to improved due to a veritable revolution in the technologies of cleaner power production and automobile design and manufacturing.
Our state of California, in particular, has shown a steep improvement in this measure of air quality, and our fair city of San Diego, while never having the severe air pollution levels of other cities, has shown the most improvement. The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District began monitoring the quality of the area’s air back in 1955, and the current readings show the highest air quality ever recorded.
In the midst of such good news concerning the amount of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide in our nation’s air, NASA has been busy preparing to launch a new orbiting instrument that will measure the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The newest pollution-detection satellite is called OCO-2, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, and its launch occurred this morning, July 2.