As the winter season approaches in India, the problem of poor air quality surrounds many cities in the northern part of the country. In the fight against this grave danger to the environment, scientists and environmentalists everywhere have sought various solutions.
According to new research, herbal sparks could alter indoor air quality in ways never before imagined. However, it is not known whether the effects of these mini-shocks in the atmosphere are positive or negative.
Scientists know that plants and trees can emit small, visible electrical discharges from the tips of their leaves when trapped under the electrical fields generated by thunderstorms overhead. The discharges, called coronas, are sometimes visible as faint blue sparks that glow around charged objects, according to the study.
In the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, researchers from the Department of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University recreated the electric fields of thunderstorms in a laboratory and analyzed the coronas emitted by eight plant species in various terms.
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After analysis, the discharges created a large abundance of chemicals containing unpaired electrons that are highly reactive with other compounds. These compounds can significantly alter the quality of ambient air.
According to the World Health Organization, the pollutants of greatest public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Outdoor and indoor air pollution causes respiratory and other diseases and is a major source of morbidity and mortality.
Jena Jenkins, an atmospheric scientist at Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement: “Although little is known about the extent of these releases, we estimate that the coronas generated on the trees under thunderstorms could have substantial impacts on ambient air”.