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Air Pollution



GROUP

2

Shane Elbert, Nathan Dahlhauser, Alexia Farrell, Matthew Dejong


5/30
/12
























2


ABSTRACT

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

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
ious
impact on us
and
the environment.
Main sources of air pollution are automobiles, power
plants, pesticides, and industrial factories.
Air pollution

from these sources

ha
ve

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
pollution.

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
creation

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

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

“go
green” conservation attitude.


INTRODUCTION

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
what
our actions

produce

to create awareness. In the
past, there was little knowledge on what effects the environment and those who live in it would
endure.
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
g
diagnosed with lead poisoning that led to hyperactivity, mental retardati
on, kidney disorders,
and even death was released.
It perhaps beco
me
s

more
real

when

people hear
d

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

to,
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

over
-
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
likely
n
ever

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

of what we have left
.



3


METHOD

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

t
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
wansea.airqualitydata.com, 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”
. (cleanairworld.org, 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.
(cleanairworld.org, 2012)
Air Qu
ality Modeling
is

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. (cleanairworld.org, 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
.




RESULTS & DISCUSSION


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
some
government
-
driven

examples of decreasing air pollution.

The EPA, established by the
federal government in 1970 due to environmental concern, is responsible for “…
research,
moni
toring, standard
-
setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection
”.
(EPA.gov, 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
automobiles

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

As a result, t
he

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

and

will prevent over 230,000
premature

deaths in 2020
. (EPA.gov, 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. (UNFCCC.int, 2012)

4


On a societal level, “going green” has become somewhat of a standard for all forms of
conservation.
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
atmosphere.
The

general public has become familiar with the

technology of h
ybrid and electric
cars
,

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
impact

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

(EPA.gov, 2012)
It is
unrealistic

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

reasonable
alternatives

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

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

luxury item
s
.

While

we have more
fuel
-
conserving vehicles that emit

fewer pollutants

than ever before
,
high populations

drive
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
eople
are dependent on their cars

with the
current
economy
and with the

a
verage commute to work being
thirty minutes, a car is necessary
.
A
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,
weaken
ed

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

to
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.
A
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

are
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
use
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.

(EPA.gov, 2012)

Governmental involvement has
undoubtedly
resulted in d
ecreased emissions
by power plants
, specifically by the Clean Air Act due to emissions standards
, yet there are even
5


safer ways to continue using power plants without using fossil fuels
.

W
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. (EPA.gov, 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.

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

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

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.
EPA.gov suggests indoor polluti
on is
more harmful than outdoor
pollution.

(2012)

Through

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
household
cleaners are used incorrectly, the effects b
ecome even more harmful.

(EPA.gov, 2012)

Factory pollution,

also know
n as industrial pollution, is the release

of emis
sions,
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,

plants
,

and animals.

(EP
A.gov, 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…”(EPA.gov, 2012)
Air pollution
h
as

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
the

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
6


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.


CONCLUSION


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.



7


Bibliography


EPA.
Evironmental Protection Agency
. 2012. 2012
<
www.epa.gov
>
.


NRDC.
Natural Resources Def
ense Council.

2012. 2012
<
www.nrdc.org
>
.


Swansea.
Swansea: City and County of Swansea.

2012. 2012 <Swansea.airqualitydata.com>
.


UNFCCC.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
. 2012. 2012
<
www.unfccc.int
>.


National Association of Clean Air

Agencies.
Clean Air World
. 2012.

2012
<www.cleanairworld.org>.