Pollution and Society

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Pollution and Society
*By Osanyinpeju* Aisha
We all know that pollution in our world effects two essential aspects of our planet: air and water. Although their pollutants are emitted in completely different ways, they both harm living organisms. Air pollution is predominately emitted though the exhaust of motor vehicles and the combustion of fossil fuels, whereas water pollution is the result of industrial waste and environmental accidents. Our society knows that pollution is harmful and a serious problem for Earth but generally people dont care. Nevertheless everybody needs to contribute to prevention and pay attention to government control in the amount of material large industries can emit into the air and/or water. Industry gives off a good share of the waste that is polluting our planet, but its every person is contributes as well. Government involvement is key to regulating toxins, building waste systems and protecting air and waters. Air Pollutants

{draw:frame} The earths atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide (the major components) as well as neon, krypton, helium and methane (the most predominate of the minor components) it is these gases which make up the 5.6*1015 ton "shell" that surrounds our planet. However, humans, animals and vegetation in the Unites States alone emit 264 million tons of substances into the atmosphere each year. On a worldwide scale that turns out to be approximately 6.6 billion tons. These substances, which arent naturally part of the atmosphere, are called pollutants. Over ninety percent of all air pollutants can be divided up into five categories: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides and suspended particulate matter. Mass is only one way of categorizing pollutants. Substances can also be looked at from an effect stand point. For example, carbon monoxide (CO) comprises 56% of all air pollutants when looked at in terms of total mass. However, when looked at in terms of effect, CO makes up only 2.5% of the pollutants. In contrast, hydrocarbons make up 13% of all pollutants when look at in terms of mass but that number jumps to 71.5% when looked at from an effect point of view. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas and is the most abundant and widely distributed air pollutant. Even though vast quantities of carbon monoxide enter the atmosphere each year (147 million tons in the US alone) the majority of the emissions are due to natural causes instead of anthropogenic, human causes. It is because of this that carbon monoxide is viewed as the least danger to living beings. The largest natural cause of CO is the oxidation of methane in the atmosphere. Methane, CH4, is produced on the surface of earth by the decay of organic matter. It then rises into the atmosphere in a gaseous state, and oxidizes to form methyl radicals (CH3) which react further to ultimately produce CO. CH4+OH=H2O+CH3

A smaller natural cause is the growth and decay of chlorophyll which is the green pigment in the leaves of plants. Eighty percent of the carbon monoxide that is emitted by humans is by transportation (mostly by gasoline powered vehicles). Because automobiles are the largest source of CO pollution, the highest concentration of this gas is in highly populated/urban areas. The next greatest anthropogenic source is agricultural burning, which accounts for another twelve percent. It has been shown that exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide can harm living organisms, but the current concentration in our atmosphere is still low enough so that plants and humans are both at minimal risk. The category of Nitrogen Oxides is made up primarily of three different gases; nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ), nitrous oxide ( N2O), and nitric oxide, NO. Nitrous oxide is over four times more toxic than nitric oxide. Nitrogen dioxide is generally not considered a pollutant because it is not toxic and usually...
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