Air Pollution Essay

1214 words - 5 pages

Air Pollution is an addition of harmful substances to the atmosphere resulting in damage to the environment, human health, and quality of life. One of many forms of pollution, air pollution occurs inside homes, schools, and offices; in cities; across continents; and even globally. Air pollution makes people sick, it causes breathing problems and promotes cancer, and it harms plants, animals, and the ecosystems in which they live. Some air pollutants return to earth in the form of acid rain and snow, which corrode statues and buildings, damage crops and forests, and make lakes and streams unsuitable for fish and other plant and animal life.Pollution is changing the earth's atmosphere so that it lets in more harmful radiation from the sun. Scientists predict that the temperature increase, referred to as global warming, will affect world food supply, alter sea level, make weather more extreme, and increase the spread of tropical disease (Wikipedia, 2007).Most air pollution comes from human activities: burning fossil fuels, natural gas, coal, and oil to power industrial processes and motor vehicles. Among the harmful chemical compounds this burning puts into the atmosphere are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and tiny solid particles including lead from gasoline additives called particulates (Wikipedia, 2007). Between 1900 and 1970, motor vehicle use rapidly expanded, and emissions of nitrogen oxides, some of the most damaging pollutants in vehicle exhaust, increased 690 percent. When fuels are incompletely burned, various chemicals called volatile organic chemicals also enter the air. Pollutants also come from other sources. For example, forest fires emit particulates and Volatile organic chemicals into the atmosphere. Ultra fine dust particles, dislodged by soil erosion when water and weather loosen layers of soil, increase airborne particulate levels. A big volcanic eruption can darken the sky over a wide region and affect the earth's entire atmosphere. Unlike pollutants from human activity, however, naturally occurring pollutants tend to remain in the atmosphere for a short time and do not lead to permanent atmospheric change (Medline, 2007).Once in the atmosphere, pollutants often undergo chemical reactions that produce additional harmful compounds. Local and regional pollution take place in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere, which extends from the earth's surface to about ten miles. The troposphere is the region in which most weather occurs. If the load of pollutants added to the troposphere were equally distributed, the pollutants would be spread over vast areas and the air pollution might almost escape our notice (Wikipedia, 2007). Pollution sources tend to be concentrated, however, especially in cities. In the weather phenomenon known as thermal inversion, a layer of cooler air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warmer air above. When this occurs, normal air mixing almost ceases and...

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