Millions of tons of strange new chemical have been discovered in Earth’s atmosphere

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Scientists have discovered that a super-reactive chemical in Earth’s atmosphere lasts much longer than previously thought. In fact, they believe that millions of tons of the chemical can remain in the atmosphere for several hours.

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This super-reactive chemical in Earth’s atmosphere may be cause for concern

Super-reactive chemicals found in Earth's atmosphere

Super-reactive chemicals found in Earth’s atmosphere

The chemicals involved are hydrotrioxides. The chemical is made up of a hydrogen atom and three oxygen atoms. Perhaps the most worrying thing about how long these super-reactive chemicals last in Earth’s atmosphere, are the implications for human health and Earth’s climate.

It was previously believed that hydrotrioxides remain for a very short time. Now, though, a new study suggests they can stay in Earth’s atmosphere for at least 20 minutes, and possibly longer. Because it is the product of common chemical reactions, new amounts of the chemical are almost constantly produced.

Furthermore, this super-reactive chemical found in Earth’s atmosphere can react with other compounds very quickly. Because aqueous oxides contain additional oxygen atoms, they can be highly flammable. In fact, other peroxides have been used in rocket fuels thanks to their flammability.

This is not a new chemical reaction

chemical reaction in flasks

chemical reaction in flasks

It is important to note that this is not a new chemical reaction. The study, published by the researchers in the journal Sciences In late May, this is the first time we’ve found evidence of these chemicals in the atmosphere. But now that we know that this super-reactive chemical is in Earth’s atmosphere, some scientists are wondering how it might affect our health.

Scientists consider hydrotrioxides to be highly reactive for a reason. Unlike some other chemicals, hydrotrioxides can react with almost any other chemical. Moreover, almost all chemical reactions create hydroxides. As such, researchers estimate at least 11 million tons of water oxides form in the atmosphere each year.

Because this super-reactive chemical is so common in Earth’s atmosphere, scientists believe it could play a key role in how the atmosphere works. What this part is, though, is unclear. To prove this kind of thing, scientists will need to dig deeper into hydroxides as a whole.

Although not all of these answers are available yet, it’s always fanciful to see science confirm that there is something in our world. Yes, the chemical itself may not be new. But its presence in our atmosphere is new knowledge. Now that we know, we can figure out what role it might play, and even if it does play a role in the atmospheres of other planets as well.

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