Nitrogen dioxide NO2

Nitrogen dioxide belongs to the group of highly reactive nitrogen oxides (NOx).Nitrogen oxides are produced by high temperature fuel combustion, primarily from transportation sources (cars, ships, heavy machinery, etc.) but also during energy production. A less important source is the anaerobic digestion of fresh organic material. NO2 represents only 5-10% of directly emitted nitrogen oxides, the remaining amount is NO. However, the cooling of the exhaust and the delivery of oxygen conduces to oxidation of NO to NO2. Nitrogen oxides and other compounds in the atmosphere are involved in chemical changes leading to the formation of particulate matter and ozone.

Significance to the environment and human health:

    Health effects of exposure to NO2:

    Short-term exposure to high concentrations of NO2 can lead to:

    • irritation of the respiratory tract;
    • exacerbation of respiratory diseases, especially asthma, leading to respiratory symptoms (such as cough, wheezing or difficulty breathing);
    • increase in hospitalization and visits to reception rooms;
    • chemical inflammation and pulmonary edema caused by the reaction of NO2 with body fluids and the formation of nitrous and nitric acid;

    • Prolonged exposure to elevated NO2 concentrations may:

    • contribute to the development of asthma, increase susceptibility to respiratory infections (bacterial and viral);
    • weaken lungs defenses;
    • contribute to increased mortality in asthmatic patients as well as in children and the elderly who are in risk groups;

    Environmental effects of exposure to NO2:

    • reacting with water it creates nitrous and nitric acid, acid rains elements, destructively affects forest ecosystems, water reservoirs;
    • in reactions with hydrocarbons it leads to the formation of ozone and other harmful oxidizing compounds;
    • nitrate aerosols limit visibility, reduce the inflow of solar radiation;

Elaborated by A. Drzeniecka-Osiadacz