In the past few decades, people have come to recognize air pollution as a major environmental concern not just in the United States, but internationally as well. This however, is not a current issue. In fact, the importance of good air quality was reco

ng or heart disease, the elderly, and very young children under the age of five (Buchdahl "Health Effects" 1). In a study taken, it was estimated that six of every ten Americans live in an area that fails to meet one or more federal air quality standards

What therefore should the citizens of this country do to prevent such catastrophes? This paper aims to expose the different types of air pollutants, where they come from, their specific effects on the environment, and what we as human beings should do t

Air Pollutants

First, one must take a look at the different pollutants and air toxins. Ozone is a gas that can be both beneficial and very harmful. High in the upper atmosphere it may shield the earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation waves from the sun. Howeve

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that comes from the exhaust of motor vehicles after fossil fuels, mainly oil and gas, are burned or combusted incompletely (Buchdahl "Health Effects" 2). Cars, buses, and some industrial plants tend to gi

The next major pollutants are hydrocarbons. These tend to be released by many man-made sources mainly fossil fuel combustion (Brownstein 1). Some hydrocarbons can directly create health hazards. Benzene, a colorless clear liquid is highly volatile, or

The last two pollutants are of particular interest because they are responsible for the formation of smog and acid rain. The first one, is sulfur dioxide, which is created from the burning of fossil fuels. This pollutant may come naturally into the env

The last major air pollutants in our environment are nitrogen oxides. Once again, this pollutant is formed by the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, trucks, and industrial boilers (Brownstein 1). Volcanic dust and gas, as well as biological decay can

chest colds and severe coughing (What You Can Do 4-5). These have just been a few of the many air pollutants in our atmosphere. Each creates a particular problem of its own and has certain effects on the rest of the world. Acid rain is one such particul

Acid Rain

The growing acid rain issue has been thought of as the environmental issue of the 1980's. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem at all. It was first introduced to the world when a Scottish chemist by the name of Robert Agnes Smith began to study the

What exactly is acid rain? It is a term used to describe the acidity of wet and dry deposition. This includes the acidity falling to Earth as rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog or mist, or wet deposition, and the dry deposition of gases and particles ("Acid

prevent new damage in the future (Acid Rain Sourcebook 1-2).

There are basically two pollutants that create acid rain. It has been discovered that the combustion of fossil fuels produces the waste of gases of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Through a series of chemical reactions, these pollutants can be chan

Because acid rain can travel virtually anywhere, it's effects on the environment is worldwide. Acids rain can affect aquatic and terrestrial life, materials, and human health. It has been determined by scientists that the extent of damage caused by thi

ain eventually dissolves leaving them vulnerable to extreme damage (What You Can Do 13). The leaves then develop brown spots making it virtually impossible for them to produce their own food by photosynthesis. The tree may then diminish in health because

Because acid rain falls directly on water habitats, the effects on aquatic life is most clearly seen (Acid Rain Sourcebook 15). Lakes and streams gradually become more and more acidic because the buffer can not neutralize the rain. As a result, the num

The effects of acid rain can also be manifested in the damage it causes to natural and man-made materials. Acid tends to "liberate" metals, such as aluminum from the soil where they are normally bound. The aluminum is particularly harmful to fish, but

al in France, and the Coliseum in Italy. It is a good thing that acid rain producing pollutants have declined 40% since the 1960's. At least we are on our way to solving this problem (Buchdahl "Effects on Buildings" 2).

Acid rain also affects human life. These however, are not very noticeable. In fact, many people are unable to detect a difference between acid rain and regular rainwater because they both look and feel the same. The air pollutants that create acid rai

Prevention of Acid Rain

Prevention of acid rain build up in the atmosphere and environment has temporary and permanent solutions. The most widely used solution to neutralize the acidity found in lakes and streams is to fly a plane over the body of water, and spray it with powd

lemented, this system is forecast to reduce the total annual emissions by 10 million tons by the year 2000 (What You Can Do 7). As one can see, acid rain is being researched greatly by vigilant, thoughtful, and dedicated scientists in their attempts to f

Acid rain is indeed one of the major air pollutants of our day. Since air pollution can reach virtually anyone and affect pretty much everything, some overall solutions must be established to either stop this increasingly harmful phenomenon or at least

Government Measures

The United States Congress has been strongly urged over the last few decades to pass and enforce environmental laws to protect the health of the nation. The National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1969 which created the Council on Environmental

Another environmental safely measure enforced included the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, in 1970. This organization is helping to minimize pollution not just in the air, but also in other categories of the environment

Finally, a solution was reached in 1990 with the signing of the Clean Air Act Amendment. This new law was built on the good strengths of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and 1977 as well as other environmental lessons learned over the past twenty years. The b

in a year. If the utility happens to overstep the limits which they are allowed to emit, the company must pay a fine of $2,000 for each ton of sulfur dioxide emitted over their allowance. Furthermore, on the next year, the company much reduce their emis

Other goals and plans that are included in the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 are state-approved inspections and maintenance programs for motor vehicles in areas with severe carbon monoxide and ozone levels and an emissions control system to limit the u

Responsible Citizenry

What can the common working man do to help out the air? Conservation of energy and electricity can help tremendously because waste from power plants that are thrown into the air is a major source of air pollution (What You Can Do 13). New home and offi

ike to do errands, leisure activities, or get to work (What You Can Do 13). A new concept that is gaining more popularity is the use of "cleaner", or reformulated, gasoline for motor vehicles.

Since the first of January in 1995, reformulated gasoline has been available in the market. The EPA has worked cooperatively with auto and petroleum industries to make sure that the new gas fully meets the needs of Americans. The reformulated gas is ju


The future of air quality is starting to look better. A few years or even decades ago, that statement was not true, but because of new and effective methods, the amount of air pollution has significantly dropped. Improved public transportation systems,

ng to help" (Buchdahl "Health Effects" 5).


Brownstein, Ronald. "The Chemistry of Atmospheric Pollutants." Air Quality Information Resources: On-line. Internet. 15 Feb. 1997.

Buchdahl, Joe. "Health Effects of Urban Air Pollution." Air Quality Information Resources: On-line. Internet. 12 Feb. 1996.

Buchdahl, Joe. "The Effects of Acid Deposition on Building Materials." Air Quality Information Resources: On-line. Internet. 12 Feb. 1996.

Jakobson, Cathryn. Think About The Environment. New York: Walker and Company, 1992.

Mann, Clare. "Acid Rain: an old or new problem?" Air Quality Information Resources: On-line. Internet. 1 Nov. 1996.

Noller, Judy. "A Complete Young Persons Guide to Acid Rain." Air Quality Information Resources. On-line. Internet. 15 Feb. 1997.

Office of Research and Development. Acid Rain: A Student's First Sourcebook. Washington, D.C.: United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1990.

Office of Research and Development. Reformulated Gasoline: A Major Step Toward Cleaner Air. Washington, D.C.: United States Environmental Protection Agency. Sept. 1994.

Office of Research and Development. The Acid Rain Program.

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