Sure whipits are fun, but now nitrous is destroying a lot more than your brain cells. A study published today in Science proves it is the leading cause of ozone layer destruction in the twenty-first century.
Back in the good old days, kids inhaled nitrous oxide out of whip cream canisters without a care in the world. But, according to geochemist A.R. Ravishankara, "manmade nitrous oxide is now the elephant in the room among ozone-depleting substances." It causes more ozone destruction in the upper atmosphere than any other form of emission - and according to the atmospheric models created by Ravishankara and his team, the gas is likely to linger in the atmosphere for the rest of the century.
According to their study, nitrous oxide is dangerous because it comes from natural sources as well as human-made ones:
Nitrous oxide is emitted from livestock manure, sewage treatment, combustion and certain other industrial processes. Dentists use it as a sedative (so-called "laughing gas"). In nature, bacteria in soil and the oceans break down nitrogen-containing compounds, releasing nitrous oxide. About one-third of global nitrous oxide emissions are from human activities. Nitrous oxide, like chlorofluorocarbons, is stable when emitted at ground level, but breaks down when it reaches the stratosphere to form other gases, called nitrogen oxides, that trigger ozone-destroying reactions.
So now you know. Every hit you take on that nitrous cracker is killing the Earth.
Image via CelebrateNothing.