Jul 12, 2009

Earth is Dying - Air Pollution

A topic everybody talks about, yet no one prevents. Air pollution.

The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems.

Pollution causes both long term and short term health problems for humans. Examples of short-term effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema. In the great "Smog Disaster" in London in 1952, four thousand people died in a few days due to the high concentrations of pollution

Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. It is estimated that half a million people die prematurely every year in the United States as a result of smoking cigarettes.

However not only people are affected in terribly ways, wildlife is at a greater risk than most people understand.
Some air pollutants harm plants and animals directly. Other pollutants harm the habitat, food or water that plants and animals need to survive. Read on to learn more about how air pollutants harm plants and animals.

Acid rain harms
When acidic air pollutants combine with water droplets in clouds, the water becomes acidic. When those droplets fall to the ground, the acid rain can damage the environment. Damage due to acid rain kills trees and harms animals, fish, and other wildlife. Acid rain can destroy the leaves of plants like in the picture at the left. When acid rain soaks into the ground, it can make the soil an unfit habitat for many living things. Acid rain also changes the chemistry of the water in lakes and streams, harming fish and other aquatic life.

The thinning ozone
Air pollutants called chlorofluorocarbons(or CFCs) have destroyed parts of the ozone layer.The ozone layer, located in the stratosphere layer of Earth's atmosphere, shields our planet from the Sun's ultraviolet radiation. The areas of thin ozone are called ozone holes. Ultraviolet radiation causes skin cancer and damages plants and wildlife.

Tropospheric ozone
Ozone molecules wind up near the Earth's surface as a part of air pollution. Ozone molecules near the ground damages lung tissues of animals and prevent plant respiration by blocking the openings in leaves where respiration occurs. Without respiration, a plant is not able to photosynthesize at a high rate and so it will not be able to grow.

Global warming
Our planet is currently warming much more rapidly than expected because additional greenhouse gasses are being released into the atmosphere from air pollution. When fuels are burned, some of the pollutants released are greenhouses gasses. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and use the carbon to grow larger. However, the amount of carbon dioxide released by burning fuels is much more than plants can convert.

Global warming is causing changes to the places where plants and animals live around the world. For example:

Near the poles, ice and frozen ground are melting. This causes changes in the habitat and resources for plants and animals living there.
Ocean warming, rising sea levels, runoff, and coral diseases are causing change in shallow marine environments such as coral reefs.
Global warming is causing less rain to fall in the middle of continents. This makes these areas very dry and limits water resources for plants and animals. [1]

Although I believe that global warming is due to our solar system moving to a different part of the universe that is warmer (considering that all planets, not just earth, are getting very warm {DETAILS HERE}) a big part of the heat is due to people polluting... I would estimate that in 50 years if we keep on polluting earth will be too unbearable foe human life.

Here are American's polluted cities:
Most polluted US cities
(By short-term particle pollution)
1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2. Fresno, California
3. Bakersfield, California
4. Los Angeles, California.
5. Birmingham, Alabama
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Sacramento, California
8. Logan, Utah
9. Chicago, Illinois
10. Detroit, Michigan

Most polluted US cities
(By ozone pollution)
1. Los Angeles, California
2. Bakersfield, California
3. Visalia, California
4. Fresno, California
5. Houston, Texas
6. Sacramento, California.
7. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
8. Charlotte, North Carolina
9. Phoenix, Arizona
10. El Centro, California

Most polluted US cities
(By year-round particle pollution)
1. Bakersfield, California
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3. Los Angeles, California
4. Visalia, California
5. Birmingham, Alabama
6. Hanford, California
7. Fresno, California
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Detroit, Michigan
10. Cleveland, Ohio

Below is a list of the most polluted countries:
Rank Country Tons of Carbon per person
1 Qatar 20.05
2 United Arab Emirates 10.36
3 Kuwait 8.69
4 Guam 7.76
5 Bahrain 7.66
6 Singapore 7.04
7 United States 6.04
8 Luxembourg 5.69
9 Brunei 5.28
10 Australia 5.19

And the 'greenest' countries are:

Yale University's ranking of 149 countries according to an environmental performance index (EPI)--a weighting of carbon and sulfur emissions, water purity and conservation practices.
TOP 10 Greenest:
1 Switzerland 95.5
2 Sweden 93.1
3 Norway 93.1
4 Finland 91.4
5 Costa Rica 90.5
6 Austria 89.4
7 New Zealand 88.9
8 Latvia 88.8
9 Colombia 88.3
10 France 87.8

Some interesting facts -
India is number 120 on Greenest countries
Russia is 28
The United Kingdom is 14
The USA is 39

Thanks for reading, please subscribe and read my next post on how to help eliminate pollution.

[1] http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/milagro/effects/wildlife_forests.html


Anonymous said...

When you have been exposed to toxic emissions in the air, why doesn't the medical field know what to test for from gas processing compressor stations? Are there no medicine studies for this industry when doctors get degrees? How are doctors treating patients who live near toxic air who have asthma, constant coughing, etc.? Why are they taught about air emissions from vehicles and why don't they know how to test humans who have been exposed to toxic emissions from emergency shutdowns near compressor stations? Why do doctors give patients the deer in the headlight look when the patient says "I was exposed to toxic air emissions" and get a smile as a treatment?

Mike's Vent Cleaning said...

Absolutely right.There is a rise in respiratory disorders and bronchitis and the likes due to pollution.But the fumes from cars and other sources don't seem to stop.We should all do our bit.