Principles of Environmental Science Pollution is defined as “the introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment” (Dictionary. Com). There are many different forms of pollution including air, water, soil, light, and noise pollution. Each of the pollutants contributes to a change in the environments that has a negative effect in one way or another. Pollution affects plants and animal life, our oceans and other water sources, Earths Ozone layer and it causes a myriad Of health problems in humans.
This paper is going to cover air and water elution as well as discuss two specific pollutants of each and analyze their affect on the environment. Air pollution is something in the air that causes harm to humans or the environment. There are many different forms of air pollutants and these are broken down further into primary and secondary pollutants. A primary pollutant is something that stems directly from a source such as volcanic ash or vehicle emissions. A secondary pollutant forms when two pollutants react in the atmosphere such as acid rain. The first type of air pollutant to discuss is the burning of fossil fuels.
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Living in Southern California smog is a fact of life for many of us. Smog stems directly from the burning of fossil fuels from sources such as vehicle emissions and industrial emissions. Because of the amount of people living in Southern California and the number of cars, boats, aircraft and other fuel burning vehicles this type of air pollutants effects are much easier to see than in other areas of the country. The burning of fossil fuels is a primary pollutant and one that California is trying to fix through emission regulations, gas taxes, and strict penalties for failure to comply with set standards.
The second air pollutant I’m going to discuss is Acid Rain. Acid Rain is a form of precipitation that has a high acidic quality. Acid rain is a secondary pollutant that is formed when sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides come into contact with water. Acid rain can harm forests, degrade buildings and outdoor structures, and has a negative impact on water based species. The sulfur dioxide that causes acid rain comes from a variety of sources including volcanic eruptions, motor vehicles and factories. These two types of air pollutants impact the atmosphere in a variety of ways.
The burning of fossil fuel has been the main scapegoat as the cause of global warming. In fact, vehicles account for more than half of all air pollution in the United States. Automobiles burn fuel to create combustion and this burned fuel creates excess carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxides which are released into the atmosphere. These excess gases create the greenhouse effect which is what causes global warming. The greenhouse effect is created when excess gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are released into the atmosphere.
The Earth gets most of its energy from the sun n the form of radiation. Some of this energy rebounds back into space, while a little bit of it is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, reflecting heat to the Earth ;s surface. The excess gases create a thick layer that absorbs the heat and reflects it back to Earth, rather than letting it be lost to space. This causes the Earth’s temperatures to go up. The resulting temperature change has an impact on human, animal and plant life because of the relatively sudden changes brought about by the warmer temperatures. A popular example is the polar bear.
Because of the melting ice from the warmer temperatures their way of life and survival is at stake. Along with air pollutants there are water pollutants. The first water pollutant I will discuss is runoff. Runoff occurs in many different areas including agricultural fields, industrial sites, and urban habitat. Runoff threatens water quality by disrupting the waters natural balance. The pesticides, oil, fertilizers and other harmful chemicals that make their way into our bodies of water from runoff impact the marine life which in turn can have a dangerous impact on a major Source Of food.
Health risks from drinking contaminated water and engaging in activities such as swimming and fishing in contaminated water are also possible. Each of us needs to be more aware of runoff and find ways to prevent dangerous chemicals from reaching our water. The second water pollutant is trash. Improperly disposed of trash that finds its way into our water is dangerous for us and for marine life. Plastic bags, Styrofoam, aluminum can, fishing line and other pieces of trash can lead to the death of animals that come into contact with it.
Some of the impacts of trash in our water include interfering with the establishment of aquatic plants, affecting the reproductive behavior of fish and other animals, and depleting the water of dissolved oxygen as the wastes decompose” (Richmond, 2011 Each of us needs to be aware of what we do with our garbage to ensure it does not find its way into our water systems and end up harming marine life. Pollution affects us all and can be found in many aspects of our daily lives. Reduced air quality, contaminated water and global warming can all be traced to pollution.