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Palliser Airshed Society

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

Nitrogen Dioxide is a reactive gas that can often form the reddish-brown smog seen over large cities. The gas is made up of one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms.

How Is It Generated?

Motor vehicles account for over 50% of the total NO2 generated. Any combustion source will emit nitrogen dioxide (including: power plants, chemical plants, industrial processes, vehicles, furnaces, gas stoves, space heaters, etc.). Some natural sources include: volcanoes, lightning, biological decay, oceans.

What Are the Health Effects?

Provincial Guidelines:

What Can We Do?

  1. Conserve Energy. By reducing your demand on the power generating stations you will help reduce the amount of NO2 emitted. Also, consider finding alternative forms of transportation (eg: walking, biking, public transit, car pooling) or plan your outings in order to minimize your overall travel distance. Do not allow your vehicle to idle for long periods (eg: car starters).
  2. Support alternative fuels. Utilizing ‘Greenpower’, like wind, and solar power will reduce the amount of NO2 being generated.
  3. Properly insulate your house and body.

Table of Human Symptoms and Other Effects

Concentration (ppb)Exposure TimeHuman Symptoms and Other Effects
300,000Rapid death
150,000Death after 2 or 3 weeks by bronchiolitis fibrosa obliterans
50,000Reversible, nonfatal bronchiolitis
10,000Impairment of ability to detect odour of NO2
5,00015 minImpairment of normal transport of gases between the blood and lungs in health adults
2,5002 hoursIncreased airway resistance in healthy adults
2,0004 hoursfoliar injury to vegetation
1,00015 minIncreased airway resistance in adults with bronchitis
1,00048 hoursSlight leaf spotting of pinto bean, endive, and cotton
300Brownish color of target — 1 km distant
250Decrease of growth and yeild of tomatoes and oranges
2008 hoursYellowing of white fabrics
1591 hourAlberta ambient air quality guideline
120Odour perception threshold
10012 weeksFading of dyes on cotton and rayon
10020 weeksReduction of growth of Kentucky bluegrass
30Brownish color of target — 10 km distant
24annualAlberta ambient air quality guideline
3Brownish color of target — 100 km distant


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