Updated ozone absorption cross section will reduce air quality compliance

E. D. Sofen*, M. J. Evans, A. C. Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photometric ozone measurements rely upon an accurate value of the ozone absorption cross section at 253.65 nm. This has recently been reevaluated by Viallon et al. (2015) as 1.8 % smaller than the accepted value (Hearn, 1961) used for the preceding fifty years. Thus, ozone measurements that applied the older cross section systematically underestimate the amount of ozone in air. We correct the reported historical surface data from North America and Europe and find that this modest change in cross section has a significant impact on the number of locations that are out of compliance with air quality regulations if the air quality standards remain the same. We find 18, 23, and 20 % increases in the number of sites that are out of compliance with current US, Canadian, and European ozone air quality health standards for the year 2012. Should the new cross section value be applied, it would impact attainment of air quality standards and compliance with relevant clean air acts, unless the air quality target values themselves were also changed proportionately. We draw attention to how a small change in gas metrology has a global impact on attainment and compliance with legal air quality standards. We suggest that further laboratory work to evaluate the new cross section is needed and suggest three possible technical and policy responses should the new cross section be adopted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19537-19551
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015

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