I t is a great honour and joy for me to present this volume of
Scripta Varia which contains the papers presented during the Study Week
on “Chemical Events in the Atmosphere and their Impact on the
Environment” held at the seat of the Academy from the 7th to the 11th
of November, 1983. The discussions which followed each presentation
are included in the volume. These proceedings are of great interest;
they touch on problems which may seem diverse for a non-knowledgeable
person, or insignificant to those who flee the reality of our present world.
Treatments that take into account the physics of can-
cer cells and tumours could, however, offer radically
new approaches, especially when combined with nano-
technology. As far as the NCI initiative is concerned, it
is mainly focused on pure research and is not seeking
to develop new treatments, although one group at the
Houston Physical Sciences-Oncology Center in Texas,
led by Mauro Ferrari, is trying to get gold nanoparticles
inside cancer cells to see if microwaves can literally cook
the cells to death.
Human activities are affecting the global environment in myriad
ways, with numerous direct and indirect effects on ecosystems.
The climate and atmospheric composition of Earth are changing
rapidly. Humans have directly modified half of the ice-free terrestrial
surface and use 40% of terrestrial production. Our actions are
causing the sixth major extinction event in the history of life on
Earth and are radically modifying the interactions among forests,
fields, streams, and oceans.
Unlike stratospheric ozone that protects life on
earth, tropospheric ozone is highly toxic and is the
main pollutant of the atmosphere of industrialized
countries and cities. Its precursors are emanated from
industrial activities and traffic. Generated by lightning,
photochemical reactions or with free radicals, it has a
density of 1.66 times greater than air and is maintained
close to the ground. It decomposes easily, generating
free radicals with oxidizing power. The main primary
pollutants leading to ozone formation are nitrogen
oxides, volatile organic compounds and methane.