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Tropospheric ozone

Ozone (O3) is a key constituent of the troposphere.

Photochemical and chemical reactions involving it drive many of the chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere by day and by night.

At abnormally high concentrations brought about by man's activities (largely the combustion of fossil fuel), it is a pollutant, a constituent of smog.

Many highly energetic reactions produce it, ranging from combustion to photocopying.

Often laser printers will have a smell of ozone, which in high concentrations is toxic.

Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent readily reacting with other chemical compounds to make many possibly toxic oxides.

The majority of tropospheric ozone formation occurs when nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as xylene, react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

NOx and VOCs are called ozone precursors.

Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents are the major anthropogenic sources of these chemicals.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Tropospheric ozone", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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November 28, 2015

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updated 12:56 pm ET