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Air Pollution



Shane Elbert, Nathan Dahlhauser, Alexia Farrell, Matthew Dejong




Researchers and environmental scientists use particular methods for obtaining data on
air pollution that

provide information on

what changes are occurring and what those
changes mean for our planet and its inhabitants. These methods are
Air Quality Monitoring,
source monitoring and ambient air monitoring.
This is how we know air pollution has a ser
impact on us
the environment.
Main sources of air pollution are automobiles, power
plants, pesticides, and industrial factories.
Air pollution

from these sources


been found to
be a part of the current major predicament of climate change that
the world is facing as well as
some health problems that it causes. Studies have shown air pollution contributes to
greenhouse gas

levels, rising seas
, extreme weather, and health effects caused directly from

The results of data and research done have led to increased awareness that brought
about change in laws, regulations
, technology,

and societal standards that have lowered the
effects of air pollution such as the

of the Environmental Protection Ag
ency, Clean Air
introduction of fuel efficient

and electric cars, and the development of a society with a

green” conservation attitude.


It seems change is not made until damage has already been done. It takes an event or
several year
s of lack of knowledge of
our actions


to create awareness. In the
past, there was little knowledge on what effects the environment and those who live in it would
It became evident that damage was being done when the idea of global warm
ing was
becoming a common conversation and when sea levels were noticeably rising and people had
to move closer inland. It became evident when the study of children in New York bein
diagnosed with lead poisoning that led to hyperactivity, mental retardati
on, kidney disorders,
and even death was released.
It perhaps beco



people hear

the statistics of
what f
ossil fuel
fired power plants produce
, which is

“67 percent of the nation’s sulfur dioxide
emissions, 23 percent of nitrogen oxide emi
ssions and 40 percent of man
made carbon dioxide
emissions.” (EPA
.gov, 2012
Once the world had

come to an understanding and general
consciousness of the
effects of air pollution, we could

begin using preventative methods
directed at the causes

and even more prevention needs to be assessed

Air pollution comes
from several sources but mainly automobiles, power plants, pesticides and indoor pollution,
and industrial factories. Given the severity of the current issues air pollution is contributing

much research has been done in recent years, prompting the implementation of various laws
and regulations aimed at controlling the use of pollutants and emissions.

It is important to study air pollution and what causes it as well as the effects it has

on us
and the environment. We have already learned that our actions regarding automobiles, power
plants, indoor pollutants, and factories is harmful to our planet and is having several negative
effects on it and its inhab
itants. Going at this careless and

consuming pace will only create
bigger problems that have already grown large enough. If we can continue to educate ourselves
and others about these causes and our contribution to the overall problem, we can also learn
how to prevent. Prevention and
education will

reverse the negative effects that our
world has put on itself, but will allow

of what we have left



Researchers use several methods for collecting data and measuring air pollution and its

hat have led to increased awareness of the issues and eventually resulted in change

Main ways that air pollution is measured is through
the use of
monitoring sites

and computer
models by using

passive, active, and automatic sampling.

s, 2012

“Ambient air monitoring data is used to determine air quality, establish the extent of air
pollution problems, assess whether established standards are being met, and characterize the
potential human health risk in an area”
. (, 2012)

Source and ambient air monitoring are the main methods of obtaining air pollution data.
This is done by using continuous ins
trumental, manual
, or remot
e measurements

with optical
sensing systems.
(, 2012)
Air Qu
ality Modeling

used as an alternative to
direct monitoring and show levels of air quality over time from various sources. They estimate
emissions from automobiles, for example, and predict meteorological factors and dispersion of
the air pollution and i
ts contents. (, 2012)
These methods also provide
information as to the chemicals that are released from various sources and what they mean for
human, plant, and animal health.
This information provides insight to the increase in illnesses
due to air pollution, and it is vital that we protect ourselves not only for economical reasons but
to remain a healthy world.
We are aware because of these methods of what air pollution does
to the environment as well as humans and can make changes based
on the learned information
using prevention.
Along with actions that have been taken by the collaboration of
environmental scientists, researchers, and the government, there are methods individuals can
follow to decrease the negative impact they have on th
e environment

such as recycling,
conserving energy in homes, and driving less


The results of researchers collecting data on air pollution and its effects have led
to several changes.
The Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, and Kyoto Protocol are

examples of decreasing air pollution.

The EPA, established by the
federal government in 1970 due to environmental concern, is responsible for “…
toring, standard
setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection
(, 2012) The EPA has allowed for laws and regulations to be put into place to reduce
pollution in all its facets including air pollution. Furthermore, the Clean

Air Act was also
established in 1963 and was created as a result of shocking data that revealed control of air
pollution was necessary for environmental and human health. Many amendments have been
made that significantly decreased the emissions from indus
trial factories and

well as created standards that protect public health and welfare and regulate emissions of
hazardous pollutants

As a result, t

Clean Air Act prevented over 200,000 premature deaths,
20,000 heart disease cases and nearly 850,000 asthma attacks


will prevent over 230,000

deaths in 2020
. (, 2012)

The Kyoto Protocol is a binding agreement between
37 countries that

will result in decreased greenhouse emissions. Developed and industrialized
countries are the main contributors to pollution, so they are considered more responsible for
taking care of their burden they put on the environment. The Kyoto Protocol will resu
lt in a
reduction of emissions by 5 percent over a period of five years. (, 2012)


On a societal level, “going green” has become somewhat of a standard for all forms of
For example, e
ducation has been directed at children on conservi
ng their usage
because what they use in their homes is powered by fossil fuels that harm the earth’s

general public has become familiar with the

technology of h
ybrid and electric

leading to people

becoming more conservative with the gas they use and cars they buy
with ultimately results in overall

less gas emissions from automobiles.

Undoubtedly, governmental programs and increased awareness have had a positive

on slowing the effects of ai
r pollution and advancement of climate change. However, we
need to do more

to slow the effects

Looking at automobiles alone, t
here are many solutions

that have been made

to d
ecrease the amount of air

pollution that is produced.
from the U.S. a
nd China make up more than half of the carbon dioxide that is produced in the

(, 2012)
It is

to completely ge
t rid of automobile pollution, but more
people have realized that


are car pooling, riding the bus
, riding non
motorized objects, walking, and converting to
hybrid or

cars, although hybrid and
newer fuel efficient
are expensive
have become

luxury item


we have more
conserving vehicles that emit

fewer pollutants

than ever before
high populations

these cars which
result in

the same

if not more

amounts of air
pollution. Automobile pollution
is a d
ifficult situation to handle because p
are dependent on their cars

with the
and with the

verage commute to work being
thirty minutes, a car is necessary
s a
result of needing a car for the commute,

more pollutants
are produced which in turn is harmful
in the

long run

Some causes of pollution from automobiles are leaking of nitrogen, battery

spills, improper disposal of oil, and the chemicals in the soap you wash your car with. The
chemicals are washed off the car with water which then runs into the sewage gutters in the
street polluting our water systems. The most interesting means of automo
bile pollution is the
tires. When you drive on the road, your tires wear down leaving particles on the road which are
kicked up by oncoming traffic and thrown into the air waiting for us to breathe it in. Automobile
pollution has many effects on many diffe
rent things. Environmental impacts are polluted
streams, rivers, oceans, and drinking water, the cutting down of trees and habitats for more
road systems, the depletion of the ozone layer, which depletes mainly because of the pollutions
that ca
rs produce
Human impacts are respiratory problems, infant death, cancer
like illnesses,

immune system, and even adult death.

The Clean Air Act has greatly reduced the
amount of air pollution from mobiles, but it is still important to remember that more needs

be done.

The burning of fossil fuels emitted by power plants have been large contributors to air
pollution, making it a target area for improvement.
ir pollution can cause smog, meaning dark
and dirty clouds above cities, and regional haze, which is a hazy view similar to that of looking
at oncoming headlights through an old windshield.
People often

oblivious to
the effects
that are less perceivabl
e such as acid rain and health effects caused by mercury poisoning,
carbon monoxide poisoning and the inhalation of nitrogen
oxide. Some of these health effects
include emphysema, lung cancer, collapsed lungs and others.

Another major detriment to the
of fossil fuel
fired power plants is that the dramatic emissions of greenhouse gases, most
prevalent of which is carbon dioxide, contribute greatly to cli
mate change and global warming.

(, 2012)

Governmental involvement has
resulted in d
ecreased emissions
by power plants
, specifically by the Clean Air Act due to emissions standards
, yet there are even

safer ways to continue using power plants without using fossil fuels

hile ther
e are
alternatives to using the current

technology for ener
gy, the alternatives are more expensive
and less potent, in that less energy is produced.
Companies are still seeking loopholes to get the
most production at the lowest cost. (, 2012)
To combat this problem in a practical
manner, there needs to be a
n increase in alternative fuel sources and alternative fuel research
and technology. This will take the full load off of the shoulders of the fossil fuel
fired power
plants and keep their emissions down as a result. In addition, this will allow for further

trial and
error and the real
world testing of alternative fuels that fossil fuel was afforded during the early
stages of its life. This will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and ease the public into the
idea of a different source of power while letti
ng the market equal out and prices of alternative
fuels come down with advanced technology. Once this is implemented, there needs to be
stricter government regulations on fossil fuel
fired power plants and more incentive, such as
tax breaks and rebates, fo
r alternative energy consumers and providers.

, which are used for managing household pests like mice and insects,

become recognized in recent years as immediately very dangerous because of
the health
problems they
Common i
ndoor pol
such as insecticides, termiticides, and

have become

known to be hazardous to
our health.
Asbestos, lead, and mercury
are also common chemicals found in homes that can induce illness. The nervous system, skin
and eyes are affected by p
esticides used in the home. suggests indoor polluti
on is
more harmful than outdoor



methodological research, we have
learned how to prevent pesticides from harming human and environmental health through
ventilation, proper use, and proper disposal.
When insecticides, termiticides and
cleaners are used incorrectly, the effects b
ecome even more harmful.

(, 2012)

Factory pollution,

also know
n as industrial pollution, is the release

of emis
effluents, and wastes that come

out during the manufacturing of goods and services. As
chemicals, heat, and waste from the new prod
ucts go through assembly, they all need to be
eventually removed from the site of the factory. Open air vents, smokestacks, and chimneys
release the pollution from the factory into the air. This po
llution is very harmful to humans,


and animals.

(EP, 2012)

Some of the pollution that we breathe in
can be very
harmful and lead to illness
“ Since 1990, EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act has reduced
levels of the six most common air pollutants by 41 percent…”(, 2012)
Air pollution

become the enemy
on a societal level and

results in giving

emitting factories

a bad reputation

which may force certain individuals to stop buying products from that company. Research has
shown that not only going green, but promoting going green and cari
ng about the environment
and society pays off in dividends, and covers the marketing costs of promoting the “going
green” attitude.

Along with the negative pollutants put into the air, factory pollution can also
increase the effects of

climate change.
Because of the methods used to obtain this information,
the world has realized

effects of air pollution caused by factories make it necessary to push
further change to reduce emissions even more.

Overall, the result of methods used

by environmental sc
ientists and individuals have
reduced air pollution and therefore assisted in the slowing of climate change. The issues are still
not at rest, due to the decrease not being enough. Growing populations increase demand that
the world cannot keep up with at l
ow costs without damaging the environment. Although
government programs have and will reduce air pollution levels, the levels need to be

dramatically decreased even more. It will take more work on the government’s part to
implement the appropriate laws and

regulations and more education on an individual level.
Prevention is the only way towards sustainability.


Studying, researching, and educating are the main ways to bring about change.

Steps to
reduce air pollution have increased over the
years due to increased knowledge, and if we can
increase the amount of knowledge even more, we may decrease the effects of air pollution
even more.

It is important to be educated on the effects of air pollution by taking information
collected from scientists’ methods and analyzing what we are doing to our environment and
our health. The risk of harming human health should be enough to bring about cha
nge, but it is
unfortunately not.
Although there was little knowledge in previous decades on the effects of air
pollution, there is enough information now to know that we are damaging our planet and
ourselves. To sustain what we have left, we must push for

further laws and regulations and
promote conservation even further. Change has already been made through societal standards
which are strong methods that inflict a need to belong and do what everyone else is doing.
Governmental programs and monitoring met
hods are also responsible for positive outcomes in
the reduction of air pollution. Yet the causes are still not being handled at an appropriate pace
because the effects air pollutants cause are not lessened enough. Illnesses are still present and
climate c
hange is still a probable outcome.

Prevention and education will not reverse the
negative effects, but will allow for sustainability for the future.



Evironmental Protection Agency
. 2012. 2012

Natural Resources Def
ense Council.

2012. 2012

Swansea: City and County of Swansea.

2012. 2012 <>

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
. 2012. 2012

National Association of Clean Air

Clean Air World
. 2012.