Pollution such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons from burning gas and wood, and ozone are not just limited to large urban areas.
The effects are now spread out in a band across the Northern Hemisphere, F. Sherwood Rowland told a crowd of about 100 Monday in Budig Hall.
"Even though this starts out as a localized activity in a city, it is happening so many places it has become a global problem," he said.
Rowland, a KU assistant professor from 1956 to 1964, won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work identifying the effect that chloroflourocarbons, or CFCs, had on the ozone layer. He is a professor of chemistry and earth system sciences at the University of California -Irvine.
His talk Monday, "Global Smog: Cities and Biomass Burning," was for the Department of Chemistry Werner Lecture.
In the lecture, Rowland outlined his research on atmospheric chemicals, including the work with CFCs, biomass burning and methane gas, which contributes to the greenhouse effect.
Rowland said air quality can be improved through government regulation and citizen response to those regulations, but it is a slow process.
Today, Rowland will present "The greenhouse effect and global warming" at 3:30 p.m. at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. The lecture is sponsored by the department of chemistry and the KU Center for Research.