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EU SATELLITE RELEASES FIRST DATA ON AIR POLLUTANTS: US EPA EXEMPTS HFO-1336mzz(Z) FROM VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC) REGULATION

EU SATELLITE RELEASES FIRST DATA ON AIR POLLUTANTS: US EPA EXEMPTS HFO-1336mzz(Z) FROM VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC) REGULATION

24.08.2018

The first data on air pollutants from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite have been released. These first maps show a range of trace gases that affect air quality such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. These new data also show the closing of the ozone hole during 2017. Launched on 13 October 2017, Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus satellite dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere.

As poor air quality continues to prematurely claim the lives of millions of people every year, it is more important than ever that we find better and more accurate ways of monitoring the air we breathe. Thanks to its Tropomi instrument – the most advanced multispectral imaging spectrometer to date – Sentinel-5P can zoom down to the surface of Earth and deliver highly detailed and accurate data about the atmosphere.

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed revisions to the regulatory definition of volatile organic compounds (VOC) under the Clean Air Act, to exclude HFO-1336mzz(Z) from the regulatory definition of volatile organic compound (VOC) because it makes a negligible contribution to ground-level ozone formation. The EPA has already excluded HFO-1234ze(E), HFO-1233zd(E), and HFO-1234yf. Previously HFCs were added list of compounds excluded from the regulatory definition of volatile organic compound (VOC) because they make a negligible contribution to ground-level ozone formation.

For more information on the 2017 ozone hole see EFCTC Newsletter December 2017.

Explanatory Note on VOCs: Organic compounds, in the presence of sunlight and NOx, take part in ground-level ozone formation and thereby contribute to the deterioration in regional and urban air quality, with adverse effects on human health and biomes. Each organic compound exhibits a different propensity to form ozone, which can be indexed in a reactivity scale. In Europe, ground-level ozone formation occurs on the regional scale in multi-day episodes, and the Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP), has been developed to address long-range transboundary formation and transport of ozone. In general terms, the HFCs in common use have very low POCP values and take no part in ground-level ozone formation. In contrast, the alkanes (ethane, propane and isobutane) and alkenes (ethylene and propylene) exhibit steadily increasing reactivities from ethane, which is unreactive, to propylene, which is highly reactive. Alkanes generate ozone efficiently on the multi-day scale and so appear much more reactive under European conditions on the POCP scale. See IPCC/TEAP Special Report Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System: Issues Related to Hydrofluorocarbons and Perfluorocarbons Chapter 2 page 169.