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Nitrogen oxides refers to nitric oxide gas (NO) and nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) and many other gaseous oxides containing nitrogen. The main source of these gases in urban areas are motor vehicle exhaust and indoor gas stoves and kerosene heaters. The brown haze sometimes seen over cities is mainly nitrogen oxides. These gases are also partly responsible for the generation of ozone, which is produced when nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the presence of sunlight. Exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can interfere with the ability of blood to carry oxygen, leading to dizziness and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory failure.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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