Air Pollution Research Paper
Air pollution is in continuously becoming a more important and researched topic in the science and health community. With statistics showing that 91% of the world’s population lives in a place where air quality exceeds the WHO guidelines it must be addressed. Air pollution can be easily understood by first looking at the main components attributing to air pollution, the health and environmental effects, and lastly what we could do to stop this threat. Our clean air consists of mainly nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%) the remaining 1% is formed by other gases in our atmosphere such as argon, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, helium, and other gases. Whenever any gas in emitted into the atmosphere and it exceeds the normal amounts that the environment is able to dissipate and absorb this gas is then considered an attribute to air pollution or an air pollutant. This is why there is such a large variety of air pollutants in our atmosphere. There are three air pollutants of primary concern which are Sulfur Dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. All these three air pollutants are mainly emitted into our atmosphere from fossil fuels which include; fuel oil, gasoline, and natural gases. These fossil fuels are usually emitted into the atmosphere when they are burned in power plants, automobiles, and some other combustion sources.
Sulfur Dioxide is a very powerful and harmful air pollutant that gets into our atmosphere through many different ways such as industrial processes, natural sources such as volcanoes, and through different modes of transportation. Sulfur dioxide is not an air pollutant that should be taken lightly specially because of the risk it imposes to our health and to our environment. One of the main health risk that sulfur dioxide imposes is asthma specially to children and the elderly this is a result of high concentrations of sulfur dioxide damaging our respiratory system. Other health effects that are caused as a result of abnormal levels of sulfur dioxide are eye and throat irritation, and sulfur dioxide when it is mixed with other compounds in the atmosphere it can form what is called particulate matter (PM). As a result, it can penetrate deeply into the lungs which can cause several lung problems later on. Sulfur dioxide also has negative effects toward the well-being of our environment specially through the fro of acid rain. when sulfur dioxide reacts with oxygen and water vapor in our atmosphere, it forms a mist or cloud of sulfuric acid that later on reaches the ground in the form of acid rain. In conclusion sulfur dioxide is yet another air pollutant that should not be taken lightly specially because of the negative effects it imposes to us.
Nitrogen dioxide like sulfur dioxide is another air pollutant of primary concern. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that forms part of the highly reactive gases known as oxides of nitrogen. Nitrogen dioxide is more specifically emitted into our atmosphere by the burning of fuel, this includes the emissions that cars, trucks, buses, and power plants emit into our atmosphere. So, when compared to sulfur dioxide nitrogen is emitted mostly by modes of transportation instead of industrial processes; which is most commonly how sulfur dioxide is emitted. When it comes to the risk that nitrogen dioxide imposes to our health they are all mainly related to our respiratory system. High levels of nitrogen dioxide can irritate airways in the human respiratory system this irritation causes complications specifically asthma, but it can later escalate to other respiratory infections. These effects are also found in sulfur dioxide but the effects are much greater when it comes to nitrogen dioxide. Another health effect that nitrogen dioxide is known for causing is called pulmonary edema which is an accumulation of excessive fluids in the lungs. Nitrogen dioxide has three main effects that it imposes to our environment, nitrogen dioxide is known for causing acid rain when it interacts with water and oxygen; acid rain can harm sensitive ecosystems such as lakes and forests. The second effect nitrogen dioxide has is towards visibility; this is a result of the nitrate particles that make the air hazy and difficult to see through. The last effect it imposes is on the coastal waters as nitrogen can attribute to nutrient pollution. On the whole Nitrogen dioxide like Sulfur dioxide is another air pollutant that is causing many problems and has very negative effects that it imposes to us.
The last of the primary concern air pollutants is carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide is very special because it’s an air pollutant that can sometimes be found inside our homes. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is harmful when it is inhaled. Carbon monoxide is mostly emitted by cars, trucks, and other modes of transportation specifically the burning of fossil fuels. Items in our house are also credited to emitting a carbon monoxide for example leaking chimneys and furnaces are able to emit carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can have critical effects to our health whenever they are inhaled. This is because high concentrations of carbon monoxide can reduce the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood stream that goes into critical organs like the brain and heart. This is why carbon monoxide can be especially dangerous to those who suffer from a type of heart disease. Carbon monoxide can ultimately lead to death. Carbon monoxide unlike the other does not have any significant environmental effects at a global level. In brief carbon monoxide, can be extremely dangerous as it imposes huge health effects but it is also very hard to identify as it is colorless and odorless.
When it comes to reducing the amount of air pollution levels emitted into our atmosphere it can be easier than what it sounds like. In a small personal level, someone can do a lot to reduce their personal carbon foot print this varies from reducing the number of trips someone takes in their car, recycling, or flying less often. But when we want to make big changes for reducing air pollution we must come in and act as a whole, what I mean by this is actions a country takes as a whole in order to reduce air pollution. Countries have already started to start making changes for the good of our environment one of the best well known is the Paris Agreement, this is a volunteer agreement among 118 nations in which each country agrees to take measures in order to combat climate change and air pollution. Other methods that countries are implementing are putting taxes on carbon emission or higher taxes on gasoline. In brief air pollution, can really be decreased but we must start acting now in order to make this positive changes happen. Overall air pollution is really not a topic that should be taken lightly this is why I chose my project to be about air pollution. In my project, I collect samples of air particles in different rooms of a house and see which room had the highest density of fine air particles and which room has the highest density of coarse air particles. By doing this experiment I am able to make connection between air contamination at a small scale with air pollution at a global scale and retain a clearer idea of the different aspects that affect air pollution.