Atmospheric Pollution. Case Study Example

Published: 2021-06-22 00:13:04
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Atmospheric pollution can be described as the process to which chemicals, biological material or particulate matter, that are harmful to humans and other living organisms, are introduced into the atmosphere (Jacobson, 2002). Man is considered as the prime polluter of the earth’s atmosphere from his daily activities that involve release of hazardous gas into the atmosphere (Cheremisinoff, 2002). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers the following six pollutants as principle contributors to atmospheric pollution: Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Sulfur Oxides, Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Particulate Matter like Sulfates, Nitrates and carbon based molecules (Vallero, 2008).
Indoor air pollution and environmental impacts.
Many energy consumers focus on outdoor atmospheric pollution but ignore the dangers that exist in their own homes. For instance, solvents and paints are considered safe by many people while they dry (Jacobson, 2002). However, paints and solvents emit VOCs which are harmful to human health. Scented items, wood fires, house plants, carpets and furniture, decomposed hair etc emit hazardous gases that are harmful to atmosphere. Indoor atmospheric pollutants are easier to control as compared to outdoor pollutants. Proper air circulation and ventilation leads to formation of a neutral compound that is not harmful to human health. Failure to control indoor atmospheric pollution is considered more dangerous than smog found in outdoor pollution, and can lead to loss of lives.
Sick building syndrome.
This is a situation whereby occupants of a building experience some health problems (Jacobson and Jacobson, 2012). The nature of illness is linked to the amounts of time that one spends in an office. This problem occurs when a building is constructed, maintained or in a manner inconsistent with its prescribed original design or operating procedures. Symptoms of SBS include throat irritation, headaches, dry coughs, itchy or dry skin, dizziness and nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to odors, amongst others (Vallero, 2008). There is no defined clinical prescription of SBS as most of the victims feel relieved when they get out of the building in question (Cheremisinoff, 2002).
SBS is caused by chemical contaminations found indoor. This includes carpets, adhesives, copy machines, cleaning agents, and pesticides etc, which emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). At high concentrations, VOC leads to chronic ailments while at low concentrations it leads to acute reactions. Chemical contaminations from other outdoor sources also lead to this ailment. Control of CBSs, and involves proper ventilations in building, setting up buildings as recommended, and putting them under the recommended use.
Living an non-living factors that contribute to atmospheric pollution
Amongst the living factors that contribute to atmospheric pollution include; man, plants, animals, insects, bacteria/microbes. Plants and animals produce harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrates that mix with other atmospheric gases in production of pollutant compounds. Gases such as nitrogen lead to damaging of plant’s chlorophyll leading to retarded growth. In addition, they form acidic rains that affect the growth of plants.
Examples of insects that contribute to atmospheric pollution include moths, honey bees and silk worms. The use of manmade pesticides in getting rid of such insects contributes significantly to air pollution. Bacteria, on the other hand, are used in soil decomposition. From this process, they produce nitrates and carbon that are harmful to both plants and animals.
Non living contributors include; solar gradient, and atmospheric gases such as methane, carbon and sulfur dioxide. Solar gradient implies the amount of sunlight that hits the earth’s surface. Smoke and dust from automobiles, and human activity emit millions of tones of air pollutants. Motor vehicles contribute to ground-level Ozone, which is a composite of smog. The earth’s orbital change is also a contributor to atmospheric pollution. The changes in earth’s orbit lead to exposure of earth’s surface to direct sunlight. It also affects the ozone layer leading to emission of green house gases that are contributors of lung cancer (Jacobson and Jacobson, 2012).
Ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
The depletion of Ozone layer has both living and non-living factors contributing to the problem. The depletion is caused by nitric oxides, hydroxyl ions and chlorine atoms (Vallero, 2008). Much of the reactants come from natural sources but human activity has also contributed to their formation. Temperatures reduce with altitudes in the troposphere. Contrary, the stratosphere’s temperatures rise with increase in altitude. In between the stratosphere and troposphere lies tropopause, this has a uniform temperature. The uniformity prevents the exchange of materials between the troposphere and stratosphere.
Failure of the exchange implies that some constituents do not reach to the stratosphere. Rockets, planes and space shuttles also inject some pollutants, which add to the failure. In addition, human activities, which lead to emission of pollutants into the air, lead to the failure. This leads to the depletion of the stratosphere and causes the ozone layer to wear out. The results are exposure to the earth’s surface leading to instances of global warming, weather and climatic change.
Positive and negative effects of atmospheric pollution.
Air pollution has both pros and cons: Most of the pollutants lead to health complications and death. Exposure to atmospheric pollution is associated to vascular, pulmonary, cardiac and neurological impairments.
Acid Deposition.
Industries, power plants and metal refineries emit sulfur and nitrogen oxide from highly placed smokestacks that allow the gases to rise high up, into the atmosphere (Cheremisinoff, 2002). As they move up they mix with other pollutants and water vapor leading to formation of nitric and sulfuric acids. These acids drop down in form of acidic rains, fog, and snow, or sometimes deposited dry. This is referred to as acid deposition. Acidic rain has a PH of less than 5.0 which damages plants. However, the nitrates found in the rains fertilize ocean waters making it possible for algae growth. On the other hand, the growth of algae leads to ecological changes and death aquatic life.
Industrial air pollution impact in China.
A clear example of effects of industrial air pollution can be found in China. The economic history of China is on the run with double digit growth rates. This is derived from coal mining and production of power. However, the country is chocking from its own success. Environmental degradation is on a rising trend with most cities being wrapped under toxic gray shrouds, which come from power producing plants. The efforts of the government to close the firms, which are not environmental cautious, have not been fruitful as it threatens the country’s economy. Cities like Beijing, Chongqing, Shenyang and Xian, are so polluted to the extent of the problem being considered a national catastrophe. Cancer cases in the country cause hundreds of death each year. Over five million citizens do not have access to clean water, and this increases the threat of atmospheric pollution in the region.
Industrial smog impact in Mexico.
Industrial waste also causes climatic changes. The city of Mexico is among global cities affected by smog that has led to significant changes in climate. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and ozone, are among the gases that originate from burning of fossils, in the city. Most of the consumed energy relates to urban transport, and this contributes to more atmospheric pollution.
Global Warming.
The key effect of atmospheric pollution, and that which remains to be a global threat, is global warming (Jacobson, 2002). Global warming implies to increases of temperatures in the earth’s surface. The causes of increased temperatures are human activities that include factory emissions, emissions from vehicles, wood and forest burning, increased emissions of carbon dioxide, and overpopulation. The earth absorbs the larger part of heat radiated from the sun. The remaining part is reflected back. Greenhouse gases such as methane, ozone and carbon dioxide, trap the radiated heat preventing it from escaping. The reflected heat increase warmth on the surface air leading to global warming. Global warming causes melting of glaciers, and this water flows to oceans causing a rise in ocean levels (Jacobson and Jacobson, 2012). This in turn leads to hurricanes that destroy property, land, take away lives and bring about economic deterioration.
Evaluation of current sustainability strategies, and solutions
Some current environmental protection strategies include setting up legislations in minimizing global warming. These legislatures set manageable limits on pollution enhancing reduction of formation acidic compounds. EPA feels that this idea not only reduces pollution, but also reduce natural disasters, in US. This strategy can be considered effective but the proposed ways of implementation limits its effectiveness. There has also been a proposal on investing in clean energy and green jobs with the use of solar and wind energy. The implementation of this program leads to increased employment levels as well as reduction in pollution. However, the question of efficiency in demand remains a limitation of the program.
Manufacturing of fuel-efficient vehicles have also been considered an option (Jacobson and Jacobson, 2012). This action saves on gas use and increase global competition for the betterment of an economy. The idea has been said to cut global warming by at least 350 million metric tons, and also saves 2 million barrels of oil, daily. The limitation is on the prices of such hybrid vehicles; the poor and middle class may not afford the cars. To solve indoor atmospheric pollution, a strategy that involves construction of green homes and buildings has been put across. This makes buildings energy efficient and minimizes the effects of indoor air pollutants.
Plan to reach sustainability.
Majority of environmental sustainability issues are caused by ignorance, and lack of awareness. To reach sustainability my plan would be campaigning using civic educational programs on the effects of human activities towards the environment. The campaign would be inclusive of educational programs on human activity, how the hazardous atmospheric compounds are formed, and the effects they have on human life. Community education would do better that having the programs individually. This would save time and energy, and also act as a form of attracting a lot of people. The program would be in cities mostly affected by the programs, practical’s in companies and presentations. Working with recognized individuals in the community, environmentalists and government agencies would boost the success of my plan.
Benefits and challenges of this plan.
With the educational program awareness will be increased. With educating people on the hazards of atmospheric pollution, the community will come up with possible and sustainable solutions. Every community member will be aware of the expected part to play in promotion of environmental sustainability, and this will reduce global warming.
A key challenge will be funds to conduct the campaign to the most affected regions. Conducting such an assignment would also be challenged by peoples’ perspectives on politics, and this would reduce the levels of attention. In addition, the whole program would be effective with willingness to change in behavior.
The government would support this program by imposing restrictive legislature on firms producing high levels of emissions. This will be boosted by conducting inspections in these companies to ensure proper production measures. The efforts required by the society would include being own watchmen of what is happening around them. This would involve reporting those working against the protective measures to the relevant authorities. Globally, the program requires a lot of campaign in educating people on the effects of global warming, and on means of controlling the problem.
Atmospheric pollution is a problem that needs faster and effective sustainable protective measures before the situation becomes unmanageable. Individuals, society, civic organizations, environmentalists and governments need to work together in formulating achievable measures to cope with this problem. Lack of protective measures may mean increased levels of deaths from chronic ailments related to the problem. The government should balance between income generation from industries, and the effect of pollution produced by such industries. Implementation of sustainable environmental protection measures would protect the current generation as well as secure the future generation from the impacts of pollution.
Cheremisinoff, N. P. (2002). Handbook of air pollution prevention and control. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.
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Jacobson, M. Z. (2002). Atmospheric pollution: History, science, and regulation. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press.
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Jacobson, M. Z., & Jacobson, M. Z. (2012). Air pollution and global warming: History, science, and solutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bottom of Form
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Vallero, D. A. (2008). Fundamentals of air pollution. Amsterdam: Academic Press.

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