How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 333

Does air pollution contribute to the blueness of the sky (make it bluer)? Has the sky become more blue with the advent of technology (factories, machinery, etc.)?
Yes. Pollution does tend to make the sky bluer and the sunsets redder. However, pollution also imparts colors directly by absorbing certain wavelengths of light. The orange haze that hovers over cities is often caused by nitrogen oxides, which are simply orange in color and act like pigments to make everything appear orangish. However smoke and dust certainly change the look of the sky by increasing scattering. Natural disasters are even more effective: volcanic eruptions create the most beautiful sunsets of all by tossing vast amounts of dust into the air.

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