air pollution

outdoor air pollution

The major cause of outdoor air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are burned in power plants, factories, motor vehicles, and home heating systems. Ranching and using chemicals such as fertilizers also cause outdoor air pollution. Erosion of soil in farm fields, mining activities, and construction sites adds dust particles to the air as well. Some specific outdoor air pollutants are described in Table 25.1. Air Pollutant Sulfur oxides Nitrogen oxides Carbon monoxide Carbon dioxide Particles (dust, smoke) Mercury Smog Ground-level ozone Source coal burning motor vehicle exhaust motor vehicle exhaust all fossil fuel burning wood and coal burning coal burning coal burning motor vehicle exhaust Problem acid rain acid rain poisoning global climate change respiratory problems nerve poisoning respiratory problems respiratory problems

acid rain

Air pollution may also cause acid rain. This is rain that is more acidic (has a lower pH) than normal rain. Acids form in the atmosphere when nitrogen and sulfur oxides mix with water in air. Nitrogen and sulfur oxides come mainly from motor vehicle exhaust and coal burning. If acid rain falls into lakes, it lowers the pH of the water and may kill aquatic organisms. If it falls on the ground, it may damage soil and soil organisms. If it falls on plants, it may make them sick or even kill them. Acid rain also damages stone buildings, bridges, and statues, like the one in Figure 25.1.

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heath effects of outdoor air pollution

Outdoor air pollution causes serious human health problems. For example, pollutants in the air are major contributors to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Air pollution may trigger asthma attacks and heart attacks in people with underlying health problems. In fact, more people die each year from air pollution than automobile accidents.

indoor air pollution

You may be able to avoid some of the health effects of outdoor air pollution by staying indoors on high-pollution days. However, some indoor air is just as polluted as outdoor air.

global climate change

Another major problem caused by air pollution is global climate change. Gases such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels increase the greenhouse effect and raise Earths temperature. The greenhouse effect is a natural feature of Earths atmosphere. It occurs when certain gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, radiate the suns heat back down to Earths surface. Figure 25.2 shows how this happens. Without greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the heat would escape into space. The natural greenhouse effect of Earths atmosphere keeps the planets temperature within a range that can support life. The rise in greenhouse gases due to human actions is too much of a good thing. It increases the greenhouse effect and causes Earths average temperature to rise. Rising global temperatures, in turn, are melting polar ice caps and glaciers. Figure 25.3 shows how much smaller the Arctic ice cap was in 2012 than it was in 1984. With more liquid water on Earths surface, sea levels are rising. Adding more heat energy to Earths atmosphere also causes more extreme weather and changes in precipitation patterns. Global warming is already causing food and water shortages and species extinctions. These problems will only grow worse unless steps are taken to curb greenhouse gases and global climate change.

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controlling indoor air pollution

Its easier to control the quality of indoor air than outdoor air. Steps home owners can take to improve indoor air quality include: keeping the home clean so it is as free as possible from dust, mold, and pet dander. choosing indoor furniture, flooring, and paints that are low in toxic compounds such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds). making sure that fuel-burning appliances are working correctly and venting properly. installing carbon monoxide alarms like the one in Figure 25.4 at every level of the home.

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sources of indoor air pollution

One source of indoor air pollution is radon gas. Radon is a radioactive gas that may seep into buildings from rocks underground. Exposure to radon gas may cause lung cancer. Another potential poison in indoor air is carbon monoxide. It may be released by faulty or poorly vented furnaces or other fuel-burning appliances. Indoor furniture, carpets, and paints may release toxic compounds into the air as well. Other possible sources of indoor air pollution include dust, mold, and pet dander.

instructional diagrams

No diagram descriptions associated with this lesson

questions

Air pollution is due mainly to

a. natural processes.

-->  b. human actions.

c. climatic changes.

d. weather patterns.

__main gas that is causing global climate change

a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

-->  g. carbon dioxide

__naturally occurring radioactive gas that may pollute indoor air

a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

-->  f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

Which of the following is both an indoor and an outdoor air pollutant?

a. mold

b. VOCs

-->  c. carbon monoxide

d. all of the above

Consequences of global climate change include

a. more extreme weather.

b. species extinctions.

c. rising sea levels.

-->  d. all of the above

__air pollutant produced by burning coal that causes acid rain

a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

-->  d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

__air pollutant caused by motor vehicle exhaust that worsens respiratory problems

a. air pollution

-->  b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

Exposure to radon gas may cause cancer of the

a. skin.

-->  b. lung.

c. kidney.

d. colon.

__toxic gas that may be released by faulty fuel-burning appliances

a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

-->  c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

Volatile organic compounds are found in some

a. furniture.

b. flooring.

c. paints.

-->  d. all of the above

__any harmful substance released into the atmosphere

-->  a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

__natural feature of Earths atmosphere that warms Earths surface

a. air pollution

b. ground-level ozone

c. carbon monoxide

d. sulfur oxide

-->  e. greenhouse effect

f. radon

g. carbon dioxide

Earths atmosphere is too vast to become seriously polluted.

a. true

-->  b. false

Cardiovascular diseases may be worsened by air pollution.

-->  a. true

b. false

Erosion of soil adds dust particles to the atmosphere.

-->  a. true

b. false

Fewer people die each year from air pollution than automobile accidents.

a. true

-->  b. false

Earth had no greenhouse gases until about 200 years ago.

a. true

-->  b. false

Air pollution is no longer a major problem in the U.S.

a. true

-->  b. false

Heart attacks may be triggered by pollutants in the air.

-->  a. true

b. false

Acid rain may kill animals but does not affect plants.

a. true

-->  b. false

Earth had no greenhouse effect until human beings started burning fossil fuels.

a. true

-->  b. false

Outdoor air is always more polluted than indoor air.

a. true

-->  b. false

Air pollution is a major contributor to respiratory diseases.

-->  a. true

b. false

It is easier to control the quality of indoor air than outdoor air.

-->  a. true

b. false

The major cause of outdoor air pollution is

a. use of chemicals such as fertilizers.

b. erosion of disturbed soil.

-->  c. burning of fossil fuels.

d. ranching activities.

Carbon monoxide is

a. a major cause of global climate change.

-->  b. a toxic gas that may pollute indoor air.

c. one of the chief causes of acid rain.

d. two of the above

The main sources of pollutants that form acid rain include

a. mining activities.

b. coal burning.

c. motor vehicle exhaust.

-->  d. two of the above

Consequences of acid rain may include

a. destruction of stone buildings.

b. deaths of aquatic organisms.

c. damage to soil.

-->  d. all of the above

What are VOCs?

-->  a. toxic compounds released by some furniture and paints

b. nerve poisons produced by the burning of fossil fuels

c. deadly gases released by poorly vented furnaces

d. none of the above

Fossils fuels are burned in

a. power plants.

b. motor vehicles.

c. factories.

-->  d. all of the above

Which of the following is a common indoor and outdoor air pollutant?

-->  a. dust

b. radon

c. pet dander

d. ground-level ozone

diagram questions

No diagram questions associated with this lesson