Interactive effects of changing stratospheric ozone and climate on tropospheric composition and air quality, and the consequences for human and ecosystem health
The composition of the air we breathe is determined by emissions, weather, and photochemical transformations induced by solar UV radiation. Photochemical reactions of many emitted chemical compounds can generate important (secondary) pollutants including ground-level ozone (O3) and some particulate matter, known to be detrimental to human health and ecosystems. Poor air quality is the major environmental cause of premature deaths globally, and even a small decrease in air quality can translate into a large increase in the number of deaths. In many regions of the globe, changes in emissions of pollutants have caused significant changes in air quality. Short-term variability in the weather as well as long-term climatic trends can affect ground-level pollution through several mechanisms. These include large-scale changes in the transport of O3 from the stratosphere to the troposphere, winds, clouds, and patterns of precipitation. Long-term trends in UV radiation, particularly related to the depletion and recovery of stratospheric ozone, are also expected to result in changes in air quality as well as the self-cleaning capacity of the global atmosphere. The increased use of substitutes for ozone-depleting substances, in response to the Montreal Protocol, does not currently pose a significant risk to the environment. This includes both the direct emissions of substitutes during use and their atmospheric degradation products (e.g. trifluoroacetic acid, TFA).
- This article is part of the themed collections: 2019 Perspective article collection and Environmental effects of ozone depletion and its interactions with climate change: 2018 Assessment