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Air Pollution Summary 23

Oct 08, 1999 1473 Words
AIR POLUTION

Problem The first thing people see, in the morning, when they walk outside is the sky or the colored sun. Is this world giving us the privilege of seeing the natural colors of the sun through all the layers of pollution within the air (Dinanike 31)? Not only are beautiful sights such as this hidden behind the pollution this world causes everyday, but an increase in diseases, infections and death occurs. What causes pollution? What can we do to prevent it, and get rid of it? Is it fair to the children of the future to have to suffer the consequences that pollution causes? Why not take care of the problem now? Factory and business owners have the ability to prevent air pollution. Air pollution is the presence in the atmosphere of harmful gases, liquids, or solids. Air pollution, known as smoke pollution for many years, resulted from coal combustion (Hodges 526). Smog has been a problem in coal-burning areas for several centuries. Smog finally decreased when coal combustion was replaced by oil and gas combustion. Air pollution is caused by a number of different types of pollutants. The first type, particulate matter, consists of solid and liquid aerosols suspended in the atmosphere. These arise from the burning of coal and from industrial processes. Atmospheric particles can scatter and absorb sunlight which reduces visibility. Particles also reduce visibility by attenuating the light from objects and illuminating the air causing the contrast between the objects and their backgrounds to reduce. Not only does it effect visibility, but it hastens the erosion of building materials and the corrosion of metals, interferes with the human respiratory system, and brings toxic materials into the body. The small particles cause chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, emphysema and lung cancer (Hodges 59). The second type is sulfur oxides which come from the burning of coal and industrial processes. Damage to materials, to vegetation, and to the human respiratory system are caused by the acid nature of oxides. Small quantities of sulfur oxides can increase illness and mortality (Hodges 59). The third type of pollutant is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas against which humans have no protection. Carbon monoxide comes from the exhaust of gasoline-powered vehicles and secondarily from industrial processes (Hamer 45). Hemoglobin, which is in the blood, combines with carbon monoxide and carries less oxygen to body tissues causing health and heart effects. Some health problems come from the exhaust fumes leaking into the interior of the automobile. "Several hundred Americans die from CO poisoning each year. Sodium oxide levels below .25 ppm have been associated with increased morbidity in New York as measured by hospital admissions. In all cases in which adverse health effects have been noted the elderly patients have been affected severely" (Hodges 60). The fourth type is hydrocarbons which are chemical compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons also arise from gasoline-powered vehicles and from industrial processes. Hydrocarbons are an important part of the production of photochemical smog (Hodges 61). The last type is nitrogen oxides that come from high- temperature combustion, such as that occurring in motor vehicle engines, electric power plants and other fuel usage. Nitrogen oxide contributes to acidity in precipitation and production of photochemical smog. Nitrogen oxide is also dangerous it causes serious illness and deaths even if the exposure to NO2 is short. "The gas was responsible for 124 deaths in a fire at Cleveland's Crile Children Hospital on May 15, 1929, when x-ray film containing nitrocellulose accidentally caught fire and produced NO2" (Hodges 63).

Solution As one can surely see these types of air pollutants are harmful to our atmosphere, environment and personal health. Factory owners can help prevent all of these effects. Researchers have found different ways to remove these pollutants from the air. One device designed to remove hydrocarbons from the atmosphere "is an improved low pollution invisible flare burner which comprises a tall stack lined with ceramic. Primary air is introduced under pressure in a tube below and coaxial with the stack. The top of the tube contains a burner for the vented hydrocarbon gases" (Sittig 227). Within this device different air mixtures provide means for complete combustion of the vented gases with low emission of smoke and light. Another method wherein gases contaminate with vapors from volatile organic liquids are recovered by containing the vapor- containing gas in an absorbed tower with a sponge oil which absorbs the vapors. Both methods can successfully remove hydrocarbon (Sittig 348). A method has been discovered for removing nitrogen oxides from gases. An ionizing radiation allows the noxious gas pollutants to enable a collection of the particles or mist electrostatic precipitators (Sittig 409). In the book, How to Remove Pollutants and Toxic Materials from Air and Water, it reports: to remove sulfur oxides and particulate matter from waste gases comprises crosscurrent contacting of the waste gas stream with a moving bed or supported, copper-containing acceptor in a first zone removing in subsequent separate zones the particulate matter and the sulfur oxides from the acceptor in a subsequent zone before introducing it back into the first zone for further removal of sulfur oxides and particulate matter. Sittig 565 Another air pollutant which is able to be reduced is carbon monoxide. Factories simply have to change their coal or oil combustions to natural gas combustion. Afterburners can cause the combustion of CO. This combustion is a source of heat as in blast furnaces (Sittig 415).

Action The government should take action passing a restriction on equipment within factories and businesses. The inspection should consist of requiring four different conditions or devices: a flare burner, an ionizing radiation, crosscurrents contacting of the waste gas stream with an acceptor, and change all combustions to natural gas combustions. Like most laws, if one device or condition is not present then the company should be fined a large sum of money. In order for the company to continue staying open the missing devices or conditions should be present within the following two weeks. Many restrictions are made for businesses and factories, but what is more important than the health of our people. Action should be taken right away. Important advantages to passing extra restrictions on factories and businesses are involved within this action. Not only will the factories realize how much pollution they have caused without these conditions, but they will prevent hurting the health of others. Each of these devices are exactly what we need in order to stop air pollution. Save the children of tomorrow and the environment of today by doing something to prevent air pollution.

Justification Each method mentioned above can be used in factories all over the world. The question is does it cost a lot of money? Yes, it does. In order to apply all of the above methods it can cost the factory and businesses millions. The estimated costs are $800,000,000 alone from public sectors. For private sectors it can cost up to $17,000,000,000. Reducing pollution might cut salaries for many workers due to the cost of expenses which would rise (Hodges 582). The estimations of the cost of devices to reduce pollution are accurate, but what about the money it takes to repair the damages caused by air pollution? The annual total for air pollution is $16 billion in the U.S. The amount spent dealing with air pollution leaves less money for our government to give to researchers to find cures for diseases, military expenses, or for government debt. It is like throwing away money just because factory and business owners do not want to take the time and money and invest in new methods and devices to prevent air pollution. $240 million goes to cleaning equipment dirtied by air pollution each year. For livestock and agricultural crops 500 million is used for damages. Millions are used a year for medical costs, cost of fuels wasted in incomplete combustion, and maintenance of cleanliness in production of foods and beverages. $18.6 billion worth of damages are done due to motor vehicle pollution (Hodges 568). It might seem to cost a lot of money to prevent air pollution, but as one can see it may cost more to repair the damages from air pollution.

WORKS CITED

Dinanike, George. "Sunset in the Comfort of a Laboratory." New Scientist 19 October 1991: 31.

Hamer, Mick. "Pollution Leaves a Cloud over Life in the City." New Scientist 13 May 1989: 45.

Hodges, Laurent. Environmental Pollution Second Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977.

Sittig, Marshall. How to Remove Pollutants and Toxic Materials from Air and Water. Parkridge, New Jersey: Noyes Data Corporation, 1977.

World Wide Web Site. URL:
http://www.cyberstore.ca/greenpeace/ozone/ozonehome.html "Greenpeace." November 2,1994.

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