October 21, 2009 Research Project Air Pollution The average person breathes about three thousand gallons of air per day. Imagine if that air was dirty? Most of us take for granted the air we breathe, and don’t even realize that we are breathing in toxins. Most of us aren’t even aware of how polluted the air is and how unhealthy it can be for the average person to breathe it in. It can make breathing difficult for some people and it affects all living things. Air pollution is a major problem in the world today. There have been many laws passed regulating air pollution to protect our environment and all living things.
According to Webster, pollution is defined as “a state of being polluted: impure (Taylor 1). Air is a mixture of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0. 3% carbon dioxide, and around 0. 7% rare gases making it colorless and odorless. One can consider any object containing smell, for example the smell of a rose, the smell of a pine forest, a woman’s perfume, or a rain cloud, to be air pollution (Taylor 1). However, the impurity of air is not considered to be pollution unless it has an odor that irritates the senses, affects visibility, corrupts property, or is toxic to humans, animals, or plants (Taylor 1).
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Some toxicants in polluted areas, which bring about huge concerns include: sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen fluoride, chloride, ethylene, and ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate (Taylor 2). The never ending increase in world population and other groups of people in small regions continue to multiply the amount of pollutants released in the air (Taylor 2). Paul Ehrlich once wrote “Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticides, multiplying contrails, inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide-all can be traced easily to too many people” (Hodges 12).
Some pollution problems increase as population grows because of the amounts of human waste (Hodges 17). The air pollution that gains the attention of citizens is usually the inability to see clearly from smoke, haze, or aerosols in the atmosphere. Plant damage usually occurs and irritation of the eyes and respiratory system follows as the polluted condition grows (Taylor 3). Plants are useful in order to indicate that air pollution is becoming a problem (Darley 25). There are three types of effects that pollution has on plants.
One is severe and allows us to see visible markings on the leaves of plants, which cause death of cells and tissues. A chronic symptom where we can see a discoloring of the leaf, and usually doesn’t lead to death. Lastly is growth suppression. The gasses that are in the air enter the plant and interfere with the growth of the plant (Darley 27). For people who are exposed to the environmental tobacco smoke the most common responses are unpleasant odors and irritation of eyes, nose, and throat (Tollison 11). The effect of air pollution on animals and humans vary.
Some examples of what may happen are involved in the organ systems. Respiratory systems are affected. Infections, chronic hyper reaction, and death can occur. Cancer to various organ systems can be attained as well (Rokaw 32). There are many things that are affected by air pollution. Examples of these are tarnishing or corrosion of metal, discoloring of stone and building, color loss in paint, the erosion of paper, leather, textiles, faded dyes, and cracked rubber. The main air pollutants involved in these damages are SO2, acid gases, and particulates (Darley 31).
There is some balance that must be reached between improving the quality of the air and the cost of doing so. The proposed standard for carbon monoxides is 20 ppm for 8 hours. This is to prevent interference with oxygen transport by the blood based on carboxyhemoglobin levels greater than 2%. The former standard was 30 ppm for 8 hours (Atkisson 113). There were some Acts that were passed to help control this pollution. One was “The Clean Air Act of 1969”. It extended authorization for research on low-emission fuels and motor vehicles.
Another was “The Clean Air Act of 1970. This act provided to the establishment of national ambient air quality standards and their achievement by July 1, 1975. Ninety percent reductions of automotive hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions from 1970 levels by the 1975 model year and 90% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions from 1971 levels by the 1976 model year. It also provided for studies of aircraft emissions and noise pollution (Hodges 318). There are many acts that have bee passed in order to keep air pollution under control.
The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first forceful federal attack on air pollution. On example of reinforcement on this act is the Bishop Processing Company case (Hodges 317). The Refuse Act of 1899 made it illegal to throw, discharge anything, or change the natural flow from streets and sewers. Any person that violated the Act would be punished and subject to a fine or imprisonment (Hodges 316). This Act has been violated over many years. For example, in November 197, a new York concrete company was fined $25,000 for putting concrete waste into the east river.
A Manhattan social worker and her son received $12,500 for notifying the authorities of the situation (Hodges 316). Even though waste products from energy conversion and the processing of raw materials is impossible to demolish, methods are needed to limit the out poor of toxic wastes in order for humans, plants, and animals to survive (Taylor 11). California established new standards more strict than the older standards, which were enforced by the Federal Government nationwide. In 1971 2. 2 grams of hydrocarbons could be emitted, but dropped to 1. grams in 1972 (Stephens 7). Most people fail to recognize that a small source can be just as harmful as a larger source because there are millions of them. For example, the automobile, millions of them are being driven and at the same time emitting harmful toxicants (Stephens 5). Most people don’t even recognize that they are contributing to the problem. Everyone is responsible for controlling the amount of pollution that they are contributing into our environment. Just by carpooling o recycling, each individual can do their part to help control the toxins in the air.
Each person’s small contribution will go a long way. Works Cited Atkisson, Arthur, Gaines, Richard S. Development of Air Quality Standards. Ohio:Merrill, 1970. Darley, Ellis F. Stephens, Edgar R. Air pollution: Its causes and Effects. California: U of California, 1968. Hodges, Laurent. Environmental Pollution. New York: Holt, 1973. Rokaw, Stanley. Air Pollution: Its Causes and Effects. California: U of California, 1968. Taylor, O. C. Air Pollution: It’s Causes and Effects. California: U of California, 1968.