Friday, November 2, 2012

Ozone pollution could decrease global food production

Ozone isn't always categorized as one of the harmful pollutants, in fact whether ozone should be regarded as a pollutant or not primarily depends on its location or in other words how high is it- in the upper atmosphere ozone isn't pollutant and helps protects Earth's surface from dangerous UV radiation, while at the ground level ozone is major pollutant that does considerable damage to our environment as well as our health.

There have been several major researches studying the connection between ozone pollution and plants, most notably food crops. With approximately one billion hungry people in the worlds the last thing we need is reduced food production.

How does ozone hurt plants? For starters, increased concentrations of ozone can significantly slow photosynthesis and accelerate senescence. The result of this is that plant absorbs less carbon which results in lower yield.

Lisa Ainsworth, a University of Illinois associate professor, says that „ground level ozone concentrations are already high enough to significantly damage crop production.“ Ozone concentrations are highest on sunny and warm days because those are ideal conditions for ozone formation.

Ozone has a damaging effect on food crops

She also added that as the concentrations of ozone grow, plants can get leaf bronzing, stippling of the leaves, and necrotic spots, and the really high concentrations of ozone result in cell death.

Ozone reacts very quickly once it enters the leaf of the plant, meaning that plants do not have much time to develop tolerance towards the ozone pollution.

Many areas in the world have increased concentrations of ozone, especially fast developing economies such as China and India. Excessive air pollution in these areas is already resulting in significant yield losses, and this could in years to come lead to even more hunger in the world.

The damaging effect that ozone has on food crops could play major role in global food production. In order for ozone not to interfere with the amount of future yields we will either have to decrease the levels of ozone pollution or turn to science to make plants more tolerant to increased ozone concentrations.

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