STAQS Air Quality Conceptual Illustrations

  • Released Tuesday, October 24th, 2023
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While poor air quality affects everyone, there are pollution hotspots that can adversely affect those nearest. For example, neighborhoods located near highways and warehouses can be hotspots of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and hazardous particles called PM2.5, which are more than 35 times smaller in diameter than a grain of sand.

For other residents, such as those located downwind from major cities like Chicago and New York, ozone can be an issue. While ozone high in the atmosphere protects Earth from dangerous solar radiation, at the ground level it can cause respiratory diseases and drive smog. Ozone ‘brewed’ in cities can travel to rural communities.

Ground-level ozone along with another hazardous pollutant – tiny particles called PM2.5 – lead to over 100,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center