Chapter 13: Air Pollution

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Chapter 13: Air Pollution. Dr. R. B. Schultz Geography 101: Weather and Climate. Air Pollution and Weather. Air pollution and weather are linked in two ways. One way concerns the influence that weather conditions have on the dilution and dispersal of air pollutants. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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<ul><li><p>Chapter 13: Air PollutionDr. R. B. SchultzGeography 101: Weather and Climate</p></li><li><p>Air Pollution and WeatherAir pollution and weather are linked in two ways. One way concerns the influence that weather conditions have on the dilution and dispersal of air pollutants. The second way is the reverse and deals with the effect that air pollution has on weather and climate. Air is never perfectly clean. Examples of natural air pollution include:Ash, salt particles, pollen and spores, smoke and windblown dust </p></li><li><p>Air Pollutant TypesAlthough some types of air pollution are recent creations, others, such as London's infamous smoke pollution, have been around for centuries. One of the most tragic air pollution episodes ever occurred in London in December 1952 when more than four- thousand people died. Air pollutants are airborne particles and gasses that occur in concentrations that endanger the heath and well-being of organisms or disrupt the orderly functioning of the environment. Pollutants can be grouped into two categories: (1) primary pollutants, which are emitted directly from identifiable sources, and (2) secondary pollutants, which are produced in the atmosphere when certain chemical reactions take place among primary pollutants. </p></li><li><p>Primary PollutantsThe major primary pollutants include:particulate matter (PM),sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, and lead. </p></li><li><p>Secondary PollutantsAtmospheric sulfuric acid is one example of a secondary pollutant. Air pollution in urban and industrial areas is often called smog. Photochemical smog, a noxious mixture of gases and particles, is produced when strong sunlight triggers photochemical reactions in the atmosphere. The major component of photochemical smog is ozone. Although considerable progress has been made in controlling air pollution, the quality of the air we breathe remains a serious public health problem. </p></li><li><p>Controlling Air Pollution through RegulationsEconomic activity, population growth, meteorological conditions, and regulatory efforts to control emissions, all influence the trends in air pollution. The Clean Air Act of 1970 mandated the setting of standards for four of the primary pollutantsparticulates, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and Nitrogenas well as the secondary pollutant ozone. </p></li><li><p>Have Regulations Helped?In 1997, the emissions of the five major primary pollutants in the United States were about 31 percent lower than 1970. In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments, which further tightened controls on air quality. Regulations and standards regarding the provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 are periodically established and revised. </p></li><li><p>Air Pollution OccurrencesThe most obvious factor influencing air pollution is the quantity of contaminants emitted into the atmosphere. However, when air pollution episodes take place, they are not generally the result of a drastic increase in the output of pollutants; instead, they occur because of changes in certain atmospheric conditions. Two of the most important atmospheric conditions affecting the dispersion of pollutants are:(1) the strength of the wind and (2) the stability of the air. </p></li><li><p>Air MixingThe direct effect of wind speed is to influence the concentration of pollutants. Atmospheric stability determines the extent to which vertical motions will mix the pollution with cleaner air above the surface layers. The vertical distance between Earth's surface and the height to which convectional movements extend is called the mixing depth. Generally, the greater the mixing depth, the better the air quality. </p></li><li><p>InversionsTemperature inversions represent a situation in which the atmosphere is very stable and the mixing depth is significantly restricted. When an inversion exists and winds are light, diffusion is inhibited and high pollution concentrations are to be expected in areas where pollution sources exist. Surface temperature inversions form because the ground is a more effective radiator than the air above. Inversions aloft are associated with sinking air that characterizes centers of high air pressure (anticyclones). </p></li><li><p>Inversion</p></li><li><p>This is an example of a generalized temperature profile for a surface inversion. </p><p>Temperature-profile changes in bottom diagram after the sun has heated the surface.</p></li><li><p>An Inversion Aloft</p></li><li><p>Acid PrecipitationIn most areas within several hundred kilometers of large centers of human activity, the pH value is much lower than the usual value found in unpopulated areas. This acidic rain or snow, formed when sulfur and nitrogen oxides produced as by-products of combustion and industrial activity are converted into acids during complex atmospheric reactions, is called acid precipitation. </p></li><li><p>Acid Precipitation (cont.)The atmosphere is both the avenue by which offending compounds travel from sources to the sites where they are deposited and the medium in which the combustion products are transformed into acidic substances. Beyond possible impacts on health, the damaging effects of acid precipitation on the environment include the lowering of pH in thousands of lakes in Scandinavia and eastern North America. Besides producing water that is toxic to fish, acid precipitation has also detrimentally altered complex ecosystems by many interactions at many levels of organization.</p></li><li><p>Key TerminologyNatural air pollutionPrimary pollutantsSecondary pollutantsSmogPhotochemical smogPhotochemical reactionsOzoneClean Air Act (1970)Mixing depthInversionSurface inversionInversion aloftAcid Precipitation</p></li><li><p>Pertinent Web SitesAcid Rain FAQs (Environment Canada)) Answers to frequently asked questions about acid rain. Air Pollution - U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation EPA's Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) deals with issues that affect the quality of our air and protection from exposure to harmful radiation. OAR develops national programs, technical policies, and regulations for controlling air pollution and radiation exposure. Areas of concern to OAR include: indoor and outdoor air quality, stationary and mobile sources of air pollution, radon, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, radiation protection, and pollution prevention.</p><p>Atmospheric Ozone Concentrations Ozone concentration maps from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).</p><p>Atmospheric Pollution (EPA) Here is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) atmospheric pollution home page.</p><p>Atmospheric Research &amp; Information Centre (ARIC) The ARIC is a multidisciplinary centre of excellence for the study and resolution of atmospheric pollution issues located at Manchester University in England.</p></li><li><p>Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) is the primary global-change data and information analysis center of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).</p><p>Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Here is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) home Page.</p><p>EPA Internet Site Search Engine The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) search page can be used to search the extensive EPA data base.</p><p>EPA Topics, Browse Here is a site with access to a wide variety of topics related to the environment hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).</p><p>Montreal Protocol (AFEAS) An international agreement, known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, controls the production and consumption of substances that can cause ozone depletion.</p><p>National Air Quality Trends Brochure (1996) - Six Principal Pollutants This site has an in-depth report on the six principal atmospheric pollutants. Ozone Depletion This site contains information about ozone depletion from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).</p></li></ul>