June 27, 2014 4:44 pm

NASA satellite sees air quality improvement in U.S.

Nitrogen dioxide pollution, averaged yearly from 2005-2011, has decreased across the United States.

NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/T. Schindler

TORONTO – A NASA satellite is helping Americans breathe easier: it has found a reduction of air pollution across the country.

The Aura satellite, which monitors gases in the planet’s atmosphere, monitored nitrogen dioxide over the continental United States. From 2005 to 2011 it found a significant reduction in the yellow-brown gas which is known to cause respiratory problems.

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Nitrogen dioxide can impact the respiratory system, but it also contributes to the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates – small, fine matter that can also lead to health problems. And the cause of this gas is, of course, cars, trucks and coal power plants.

New York air pollution

“While our air quality has certainly improved over the last few decades, there is still work to do – ozone and particulate matter are still problems,” said Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The news is particularly good as the number of vehicles on the roads have increased, which suggests an improvement in technology and regulations.

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