NASA: U.S. and Illinois Have Seen Big Drop in Air Pollution Over Past Decade

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The United States and Europe are among the world’s largest emitters of nitrogen dioxide — but both have also shown the most dramatic reductions in these emissions between 2005 and 2014, according to new global NASA satellite maps.

Nitrogen dioxide levels have decreased from between 20-50% in the U.S. and by as much as 50% in western Europe. And researchers put these changes largely down to the effects of environmental regulations that require technological improvements to reduce pollution emissions from cars and power plants.

The maps also reveal that Illinois has seen a significant reduction, not only in the major metropolitan Chicago area and parts of the state around St. Louis, but in more rural parts of central and southern Illinois as well.

Nitrogen dioxide is a yellow-brown gas that is a common emission from cars and industrial activity. It is a major respiratory pollutant in urban smog.

The latest images show how pollution levels have changed in the last decade in various regions and 195 cities across the world. But the space agency has gone a step further and looked at how factors on the ground, such as large power plants, have impacted the findings.

China, the world’s growing manufacturing hub, saw an increase of between 20-50% in nitrogen dioxide much of it occurring over the North China Plain, a densely populated area that runs from Beijing south to Nanjing.

For more on the story from CNN, click here.

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