Air pollution has not always been an area of individual problem but has always been a big major of global problem. In fact, air pollution is not a new issue to us. When I was in high school, I was already interested in doing research about air pollution.
I began my search of my issue with the following questions in mind. What causes pollution? What are its effects? What can we do to prevent it, and get rid of it? Can we stop this nightmare altogether? Is it fair to our children of the future to have to suffer the consequences that pollution causes? Why are we not taking care of the problem now? Must factory and business owners have the ability to prevent air pollution?
Dr. Laurent Hodges explains some of these issues in her book Environmental Pollution Second Edition. The following summary is from Dr Hodges' research on the causes of air pollutions. Air pollutions are 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. 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 is caused by the acid nature of oxides. Small quantities of sulfur oxides can increase illness and mortality. 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. 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. 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. 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.
My personal interest in air pollution leads me to continue my quest for information on how it effects on our environment. So, I continued my research on its effects. I found out that Dr. Jon R. Luoma describes the first effect of air pollution, global warming, in the book Troubled Skies, Troubled Waters: The Story of Global Warming. The global warming is also called green house effects because the gases that are gathering above the earth make the planet comparable to a greenhouse. By trapping heat near the surface of the earth, the greenhouse effect is warming the planet and threatening the environment. The droughts, hurricanes, and floods are often blamed on global. Another major effect of global warming is the rising of seas. As the earth gets warmer, there will be a rise in the average water level of the oceans, which is caused by two factors: thermal expansion and melting polar ice caps.
Next, the ozone depletion is the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which has grown to its greatest size yet. NASA says that this year's hole in the ozone layer - an annual event around September and October - measures 11 million square miles. That is three times the size of the United States. The previous record was 10.5 million square miles, two years ago. Scientists who have been studying the ozone layer since the early 1970s were shocked by the hole's size. Dr Michael Kurylo, manager of NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Program, said the website Natural Resources Defense Council: "These observations reinforce concerns about the weakness of Earth's ozone layer." The ozone layer protects our planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation and ozone depletion is believed to contribute to high rates of skin cancer in many countries.
The final effect of air pollution is acid rain. According to Dr. Archie M. Kahan in his book Acid Rain: Reign of Controversy, acid rain is a term which is used to describe a variety of processes which might more accurately be referred to as acidic deposition. Natural rainfall is slightly acidic due to dissolved carbon dioxide, picked up in the atmosphere. Organisms and ecosystems all over the planet have adapted to the slightly acidic nature of normal rain, and thus it poses no environmental problems. It is an increase in the acidity of rain, caused by human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, which has turned acid rain into a problem. Highly acidic rain can damage or destroy aquatic life, forests, crops and buildings, as well as posing a threat to human health.
After knowing these causes and effects of air pollution, a very important aspect of this issue, in my opinion, is how we individually to prevent the effects and causes of air pollution. I believe that air pollution like any other problem can be solved, but this is a long process. The following advices are what I learned form Dr. Marshall Sittig's book How to Remove Pollutants and Toxic Materials from Air and Water. I know that working together to reduce waste is not only decrease the pollution but also helps build a better community by bringing people together to work toward common goals. As individuals, we can do our part to save the environment as well as ourselves. For example, we can take the bus or carpool, or any other method of mass transit instead of driving. One car may not make the different, but that car off the road may lead to two cars and maybe three. This will cut down on pollution made by cars each year, not to mention our gas money. We can also help ourselves by avoiding use of gasoline- powered vehicles and machines like motorboats, motorbikes, or gas-lawnmowers; considering energy efficiency at home, and disposing of toxic household waste appropriately. According to the website Recycling Point Dot Com, when it comes to the trash problem, take the time to sort your trash and place it in the appropriate recycling bins. By recycling we reduce the amount of waste piled onto the landfills. As for consumption, pay attention to how the products you buy are manufactured and how they are packaged. Avoid those products made in "unfriendly" ways towards our mother earth. And finally voice your opinion in the polls. Again, if each individual did their part, we will be creating a better world for ourselves as well as our children.
Archie M. Kahan. Acid Rain: Reign of Controversy. Colorado: Fulcrum Inc., 1999.
Jon R, Luoma. Troubled Skies, Troubled Waters: The Story of Global Warming. Penguin: 2000.
Hodges, Laurent. Environmental Pollution Second Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1997.
Sittig, Marshall. How to Remove Pollutants and Toxic Materials from Air and Water. Parkridge, New Jersey: Noyes Data Corporation, 2002.
World Wide Web Site.
"Natural Resources Defense Council." Home page. October 13, 2003.
"Recycling Point Dot Com." Home page. October 13, 2003.