Air Pollution Essay

1048 words - 4 pages

Air pollutionHuman beings rely on air to live and breathe, yet they are also largely responsible for creating the pollution that makes that air unhealthy for themselves and all living things. Air pollution is caused by the release of toxic or damaging particles and gases into the atmosphere. While few scientists disagree that air pollution poses a serious threat to the environment, policy makers and citizens are often at odds as to how to address the problem.Something in the AirThere are a variety of causes of air pollution. As humans burn the fossil fuel that powers cars and heat homes-fuels such as natural gas and coal-miniscule particles escape into the atmosphere. These particles form black carbon, which is one of the most common forms of air pollution. Carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide are among the noxious gases released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. The presence of these gases can make the air unsafe to breathe. Noxious gases can result in chemical-tainted acid rain. Black carbon and acid rain are all damaging to the environment and the people, plants, and animals that live in it.Global warming, also called climate change, is another severe consequence of air pollution, according to most scientists. According to the scientific theory, the burning of fossil fuels causes an excess of carbon dioxide in the air. This dense layer of gas blankets the planet and holds in hot air, producing what scientists call the "greenhouse effect." As a result, Earth's average temperature is rising. Not only does this mean hotter summers, but the polar ice caps are quickly melting as well. As these massive bodies of ice drip into the ocean, sea levels rise and threaten flood low-lying coastal areas. Earth's temperature has, historically, changed and shifted throughout its long history; however, the speed of the climate shift currently underway has led the large majority of the world's scientists to conclude that human activity is causing the climate change.Air pollution is not limited to the outdoors. We can pollute our homes and work places with fumes from cooking devices and cigarette smoke. House paint can contain polluting chemicals such as lead. Home heating materials can contain dangerous asbestos, a fire-resistant material that can cause cancer or an inflammation of the lungs called asbestosis if inhaled.Fortunately, as people came to better understand the causes and seriousness of air pollution, preventative and protective measures were taken. In 1963, the United States passed the Clean Air Act, which required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create and impose a series of rules for limiting the amount ofpollutants industries may release. However, there are some powerful opponents to both the Clean Air Act and the EPA.Industry vs. AtmosphereDecades of conscientious work has resulted in some great strides for the environment. There has been North Carolina's Clean Air Campaign, which promotes the use of...

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