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Air Conditioning and Carbon Dioxide

Posted May 16th, 2017

Air Conditioning and Carbon Dioxide SAMANTHA ZEITZ 

Air conditioning might be your sweet escape from the heat, but experts are saying they are a contributing factor to rising temperature. 

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology showed that with the increased electricity demand from air conditioning, there’s a higher presence of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide in the air. In fact, these emissions have increased by three to four percent per degree Celsius. They found that power plants released 3.35 percent more sulfur dioxide, 3.60 percent more nitrogen oxides and 3.32 percent more carbon dioxide. 

The study revealed that the hottest days of the year correlates with the days with the most air pollution. Study lead author David Abel, a graduate student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the study was conducted in a thorough manner that’s never been done before. Scientists already knew that air pollution increased on hotter days, but rarely looked at the specific electricity emissions and what they were contributing to pollution. This study looked at the relationship between daily temperatures and emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide in individual states.
Causing damage to the environment isn’t the only problem with increase in these greenhouse gas emissions. They are also having an impact on the health of those exposed to the emissions. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides have already been regulated in the United States for their contribution to respiratory problems.
Based on their finding, experts involved in this latest research believe more effort should be directed at reducing peak demand in order to protect human health.

Study leader, Tracey Holloway the research team’s next step is to look at the impact the electricity emissions are having in conjunction with other factors contributing to pollution formation. Their main focuses will be chemistry, natural emissions and wind patterns.

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