What is Air Pollution?

What is Air Pollution? The air we breathe supplies the oxygen that sustains life. Humans need oxygen to survive, and plants and animals need oxygen to survive. Our air supply has become contaminated by human activity. We have created machinery that has produced smog and acid rain. We have created a green house effect and have made holes in our ozone layer. Each of these acts can cause serious health problems for humans and animals, and can cause grave harm to our vegetation and ecosystems. There are seven main types of air pollutants.

Raven (2008) describes them as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrocarbons, ozone, air toxics, and carbon oxides. Particulate matter can come from dust, soil, soot, and asbestos Nitrogen oxides come from gasses that are produced by chemical interactions between atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen. Sulfur oxides come from chemical interactions between sulfur and oxygen. Hydrocarbons come from chemical interactions between hydrogen and carbon. Ozone comes in two forms; (1) oxygen’s reaction with UV radiation in the stratosphere and, (2) oxygen reaction in the troposphere what creates smog.

Air toxics can be radioactive substances, fluorides, and hydrochloric acid, and carbon oxides are carbon monoxide and dioxide. Causes of Air Pollution Chemicals, human sources, and natural sources contribute to air pollution. Air pollution can be traced all the way back to Ancient Roman times. “Every day, the average person inhales about 20,000 liters of air. Every time we breathe, we risk inhaling dangerous chemicals that have found their way into the air. ” (Caroline, David, Michael, Mindy, Neil, and Vikas, 1999, The Environment: A Global Challenge.

Air Pollution). Air pollution occurs in the atmosphere and can move easily from one location to another, it is a global concern. Air pollution is a problem both outdoors and inside homes. Chemicals There are seven main types of air pollutants according to a regulatory perspective. These are: particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon oxides, hydrocarbons, ozone, and air toxics. Particulate matter is made of thousands of solid and liquid particles hanging in the atmosphere. Solid particulate matter is commonly known as dust; whereas as liquid articulate matter is known as mist. Particulate matter includes the following pollutants: soot, lead, asbestos, soil particles, sea salt, and sulfuric acid droplets. Nitrogen oxides are gases produced as a result of interaction between nitrogen and oxygen involves a supply of energy such as combustion of fuels resulting in high temperatures. Sulfur oxides are gases. These gases are a result of a chemical interaction between sulfur and oxygen. When combined with water, the result is sulfuric acid. Carbon oxides consist of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Carbon monoxide has no color, smell, or taste and is second as an air pollutant only to carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is also does not have color, smell, or taste and is a greenhouse gas. Hydrocarbons consist are a varied collection of organic compounds including hydrogen and carbon. Small hydrogen molecules are gaseous at room temperature. Hydrocarbons include methane (colorless and odorless gas principally included in natural gas), benzene (which is a liquid at room temperature), and paraffin (which is a solid at room temperature).

Ozone is a form of oxygen that is a pollutant in one area of the atmosphere but essential in another area of the atmosphere. Hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) consist of hundreds of other air pollutants such as chlorine, lead, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde, radioactive substances, and fluorides. Humans Many chemicals that cause air pollution exist naturally in our world. These chemicals are harmful in both their natural form; however, become even more harmful when burned by humans for fuel, heat, or electricity.

The two main causes of air pollutants in urban areas are transportation and fuel combustion from stationary sources. The stationary sources are heating and cooling for buildings and coal-burning power plants. Vehicles such as cars, trains, heavy-duty trucks, and airplanes, produce high amounts of carbon dioxide while fuel combustion produces high amounts of sulfur dioxide. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) “are man-made compounds that were originally developed in 1930 as a safer alternative to the refrigerants then in use such as sulfur dioxide and ammonia.