Science: Airborne Dump

Each working day, Los Angeles oil refineries and other processing plants spew out a mixture of gaseous wastes containing about 800 tons of sulphur dioxide. As it rises into the air, the sulphur dioxide combines with water vapor and oxygen to form sulphuric acid. The minuscule droplets pick up more water and a variety of solid particles (e.g., soot, dust), until the City of the Angels wears, instead of a halo, a hat of dirty grey smog.

To help make the cloud, a daily quota of 100 tons of metallic oxides goes up the flue. Factory smokestacks, city dumps, backyard trash fires,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!