Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pollution from America causes Europe to lose a million tonnes of wheat a year

Man-made air pollution from north America causes Europe to lose 1.2 million tonnes of wheat a year, a new study has found.

Ozone pollution - produced by coal fired power stations and cars - travels between continents much more easily than thought, traveling thousands of miles on the wind.

Crops on every continent are damaged by pollution from others.

The wheat loss in Europe is the biggest worldwide.

The chemical - a powerful air pollutant - is produced when pollutants near the ground react with sunlight.

The researchers say that the pollution could even endanger the security of the food supply in future.

Ozone pollution in all of the northern hemisphere's major industrialised regions - Europe, America and southeast Asia - harms major crops such as wheat, maize, soy, cotton, potato and rice on other continents.

The scale of the impact has previously been unknown.

Ground-level ozone pollution is produced from chemicals released during high temperature combustion, for example by combustion of fossil fuels by motor vehicles and in coal fired power plants.

It's separate from the ozone layer, a protective layer around the outside of our atmosphere. Ground-level ozone is harmful to humans as well as plants. Read More