Besides decorating the night skies this Fourth of July, fireworks across the United States will pollute them with ozone, according to a new study.
Ozone, or O3, plays a protective role in the upper atmosphere, where it's produced naturally by ultraviolet (UV) radiation striking other oxygen molecules (O2 ). Near the ground, ozone is a pollutant that irritates eyes and makes breathing difficult. Its formation there generally requires sunlight and nitrogen oxides.
At Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, Arun K. Attri and his colleagues wondered whether the UV radiation emitted by the burning metal salts in fireworks and sparklers might trigger ozone-generating reactions in the lower atmosphere. To find out, the researchers measured atmospheric gases before, d