Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists In First Global Study Of 'Poison' Gas In The Atmosphere

Date:
September 24, 2007
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Poisonous phosgene gas used as a chemical weapon in the trenches in the First World War, but nearly a century later, new research by an international team of scientists has discovered that phosgene is present in significant quantities in the atmosphere. Phosgene was still stockpiled in military arsenals well after the Second World War, but its continued presence in the atmosphere today is due to man-made chlorinated hydrocarbons used in the chemical industry.

An international team used the Canadian Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment satellite to carry out the first global study of the atmospheric distribution of poisonous phosgene gas.

Related Articles


Phosgene gas was used as a chemical weapon in the trenches in the First World War, but nearly a century later, new research has discovered that phosgene is present in significant quantities in the atmosphere.

Phosgene was still stockpiled in military arsenals well after the Second World War, but its continued presence in the atmosphere today is due to man-made chlorinated hydrocarbons used in the chemical industry.

A team, including Professor Peter Bernath, of the Department of Chemistry at the University of York, has carried out the first study of the global distribution of the gas. The team also involved scientists from the Universities of Waterloo and Toronto in Canada, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in the USA.

Between February 2004 and May 2006, they used the Canadian Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) satellite to measure the incidence of the gas. The research, which was financed by the Canada Space Agency (CSA) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, is published in the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

The scientists discovered that the main atmospheric concentration of the gas was above the Equator, though it was present in some quantity in all latitudes. They found that levels of phosgene in the atmosphere had reduced since previous studies in the 1980s and 1990s, though its continued presence is a contributor to ozone depletion.

Phosgene plays a major role in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, herbicides, insecticides, synthetic foams, resins and polymers, though its use is being reduced.

Professor Bernath said: "There is a small, but not negligible, concentration of phosgene in the troposphere. Chlorinated hydrocarbons don't occur in nature but as chlorinated solvents they are used by industry. They are short-lived and they decay rapidly, but they decay into phosgene.

"It's very toxic and pretty nasty stuff - its reputation is well deserved. Considering the health hazards associated with phosgene, the chemical industry is trying to find substitutes to eliminate its use. But the use of chlorinated hydrocarbons is being reduced because of the legal restrictions of the Montreal Protocol, so phosgene is also decreasing."

Higher up in the atmosphere phosgene can be slowly oxidized by ultraviolet rays, and so it continues to play a role in the depletion of the ozone layer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "Scientists In First Global Study Of 'Poison' Gas In The Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919101715.htm>.
University of York. (2007, September 24). Scientists In First Global Study Of 'Poison' Gas In The Atmosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919101715.htm
University of York. "Scientists In First Global Study Of 'Poison' Gas In The Atmosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919101715.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins