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Air Pollution FAQ.

What causes air pollution?

Air pollution can affect both the indoor and outdoor air we breathe. Air becomes polluted when various toxins, chemicals, or harmful gases enter into the atmosphere or air around us. It can have a serious affect on both humans and animals, and can actually cause some places to be uninhabitable. Different things cause air pollution, but one of the most notable of these is carbon dioxide, or CO2. The two main causes of increased carbon oxide are deforestation (the destruction of trees and forests) and the burning of fossil fuels. Sulfur, nitrogen dioxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (or CFC’s) are also common causes, as well as general smog caused by factories or other machinery. All of these factors contribute to air pollution. This can create serious damage to plant life, which in turn reduces the amount of oxygen in the air living things breathe.

Effects of air pollution

Air pollution can have serious repercussions on peoples’ health and well-being. For those who suffer from asthma, it can be especially dangerous, as well as for those with bronchitis, emphysema, or any other lung-related disease. It can danger the lung tissue directly, and over time if too much exposure occurs, can even cause lung cancer in some people. Air pollution not only affects the lungs, but also has serious affects on the heart, throat, circulatory system, and even certain peoples’ mental state. It also has serious and dangerous affects on plant life, and can actually make it more difficult for certain plants to grow and be sustainable. Animals are also affected by air pollution. In essence, all living things struggle with the detrimental affects of air pollution.

Evolution of Air Pollution

Ever since the industrial revolution, humanity has begun to take real notice of air pollution and all of its ill effects. Before that time, it was not something that many people thought about. With the use of gasoline powered cars and manufacturing plants operating smog-producing machinery, the air quality suddenly began to decrease. In the 1970s, the US Congress passed several different laws to help regulate the production of harmful gases that were released into the atmosphere. Certain standards have been put into place that all cars must meet. For example, each state has its own emission laws, but any car registered within that state must meet these requirements. Over time, businesses have begun to slowly develop new ways to help reduce or eliminate the production of harmful gases and other emissions into the atmosphere. While the world still has a long way to go, new regulations are being put in place to help reduce humans’ need for pollutant-producing vehicles and machines.

What is the ozone layer, what does it do?

The ozone layer plays a very important role in the development of and production from air pollution. This layer in the stratosphere surrounds the earth, and protects it from harmful radiation from the sun. It is actually a form of oxygen and serves as a “cushion” around the earth to prevent the sun’s harmful rays from affecting it. Over time, things like CFC’s, which can typically be found in aerosol cans, have contributed to the slow yet steady depletion of the ozone layer. Scientists now claim there is a very distinct hole in it. Greenhouse gases have also been known to play a role in its slow destruction. The ozone layer is very important because it helps to prevent serious problems such as skin cancer caused by the sun’s UV rays.

Inversion and thermodynamics and their role in air pollution

Most of the time, air is cooler in the atmosphere as it rises. A process called inversion can take place, however, and reverse this so that the warm air rises up into the atmosphere and expands. This usually happens the strongest during the winter, but it can happen all year round. When the air up high warms, it acts like a cover and traps air pollutants down below, into the atmosphere where people breathe. Excess gases and fumes can also cause the air to be warmer, trapping the pollutants. Thermodynamics is another factor in air pollution. This process involves molecules and the use of heat. When the chemicals or harmful gases are heated up, they reach into the atmosphere and infiltrate the supplied oxygen, resulting in air pollution.

What can be done to better the air quality?

People are constantly working towards improving the quality of the air we breathe. Current new regulations include eliminating all harmful CFC’s from aerosol cans and other products. Congress has passed the Clean Air Act, which regulates the way businesses operate and how many pollutants are being emitted from manufacturing plants and other places. Cars are now being made that can run on electricity, helping to lessen the need for gasoline, which produces harmful pollutants. Education is a very important way that people can reach others to understand how our actions as humans affect the environment and the air we all breathe. Through new developments in cleaner energy, air pollution can be reduced and hopefully one day, eliminated.

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