Air Pollution Essay Research Paper Air PollutionWith

Air Pollution Essay, Research Paper

Air Pollution

With the great concern surrounding the destruction of the earth’s atmosphere due

to air pollution, the immediate and direct harm caused to the human body is often over

shadowed. While many are aware that our careless use of hazardous chemicals and fossil

fuels may leave the planet uninhabitable in the future, most over look the fact that they

also cause real damage to our bodies at this moment. Such pollutants cause damage to our

respiratory system, leading to the fluctuation of the life span of an individual depending

on a number of conditions. Amongst these conditions are the individuals specific

geographic location, age, and life style. This paper is structured as a series of relevant

questions and answers to report on the description of these pollutants there affects on our

bodies. In order to understand how air pollution affects our body, you must under stand

exactly what this pollution is. The pollutants that harm our respiratory system are known

as particulates. Particulates are the small solid particles that you can see through a ray of

sunlight. They are products of incomplete combustion in engines (example: automobile

engines), road dust, and wood smoke. Billions of tons of coal and oil are consumed

around the world every year. When these fuels burn they produce smoke and other

by-products into the atmosphere. Although wind and rain occasionally wash away the

smoke given off by power plants and automobiles, much still remains. Particulate matter

(soot, ash, and other solids), usually consist of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide,

sulfur dioxide, various nitrogen oxides, ozone, and lead. These compounds undergo a

series of chemical reactions in the presence of sunlight, the result is smog (a term used to

describe a noxious mixture of fog and smoke) The process by which these pollutants

harm our bodies begins by simply taking a breath. Particulates are present every where, in

some areas they are as dense as 100,000 per milliliter of air. The damage begins when the

particulates are inhaled into the small air sacs of our lungs called alveoli. With densities

such as 100,000 per milliliter a single alveolus may receive 1,500 particulates per day.

These particulates cause the inflammation of the alveoli. The inflammation causes the

body to produce agents in the blood that in crease clotting ability, which leads to the

decreased functionality of the cardiovascular system, resulting in diseases and increased

mortality. In the blood, carbon monoxide interferes with the supply of oxygen to all

tissues and organs, including the brain and heart. Particulates accumulate on the mucous

linings of the airways and lungs and impair their functioning. Continued exposure to

particulates damages the lungs and increases an individual’s chances of developing such

conditions as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. While you may see pollutants such as

particulates, other harmful ones are not visible. Amongst the most dangerous to our

health are Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur dioxide, and Ozone. If you have

ever been in an enclosed parking garage or a tunnel and felt dizzy or light-headed then

you have felt the effect of carbon monoxide(CO). This odorless, colorless, but poisonous

gas is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels, like gasoline or diesel fuel.

Carbon Monoxide comes from cars, trucks, gas furnaces and stoves, and some industrial

processes. CO is also a toxin in cigarettes. Carbon Monoxide combines with hemoglobin

in the red blood cells, so body cells and tissues cannot get the oxygen they need. Carbon

Monoxide attacks the immune system, especially affecting anyone with heart disease,

anemia, and emphysema and other lung diseases. Even when at low concentrations CO

affects mental function, vision, and alertness. Nitrogen Oxide is another pollutant that has

been nicknamed a jet-age pollutant because it is only apparent in highly advanced

countries. Sources of this are fuel plant, cars, and trucks. At lower concentrations nitrogen

oxides are a light brown gas. In high concentrations they are major sources of haze and

smog. They also combine with other compounds to help form ozone. Nitrogen Oxides

cause eye and lung irritation, and lowers the resistance to respiratory illness, such as chest

colds, bronchitis, and influenza. For children and people with asthma, this gas is can

cause death. Nitrogen Oxides maybe the most dangerous of these pollutants because it

also makes nitric acid, when combine with water in rain, snow, fog, or mist. This then

becomes the harmful acid rain. Sulfur Dioxide is a heavy, smelly, colorless gas which

comes from industrial plants, petroleum refineries, paper mills, and chemical plants.

When combined with water it becomes sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid dissolves marble, turns

plants yellow, and eats away at iron and steel, you can imagine the possible damage to

human tissue. It’s effect on people with asthma, heart disease, and emphysema is

devastating. It is also a major contribute to acid rain. There are numerous cases displaying

the grave danger of particulate air pollution. One popular example occurred in London,

England in the year 1952. In this case excessive deaths were caused as a result of

respiratory and cardiovascular problems in that year. The research at that time revealed an

association between particulate and sulphur dioxide concentrations in the air and risk of

respiratory disease and death. The excessive problems are thought to have been caused by

“winter smogs”. Winter smogs were frequent problem during the 1940s through the 1950s

when coal was the main fuel for both domestic and commercial use. Winter smogs are

caused by temperature inversions which trap particulates close to the ground. The air and

smoke trapped contained high concentrations of soot, sulphur dioxide, and other

pollutants. This winter smog took the lives of over 3,500 people. A similar incident in the

United States came about as a result of the same type of temperature changes and smog.

In 1948 six thousand people became drastically ill and twenty died as a direct result of

winter smog in Pennsylvania. More recently an even greater tragedy occurred. One of the

great human and environmental disasters of the 1980s occurred on December 3, 1984, in

Bhopal, India. About 50 tons of methyl isocyanate escaped into the air from a pesticide

company owned by the American corporation Union Carbide. Estimates of the death toll

in surrounding neighborhoods were as high as 2,500. About 100,000 others were injured

by the gas leak. Since the in industrial revolution city dwellers have always been exposed

to higher levels of particulate air pollution. As I have mentioned, the fuels use in the

urban factories release large amounts of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and soot.

Another main factor is the heavy use if motor vehicles by the city population. In the city,

where many people and objects occupy a small area the problem is amplified. Depending

on the weather conditions the threat can become even greater. Another major factor is the

individual. While sex does not matter age and health history do. It has been proven that

death or illness from air pollution is more likely in young people, old people, and people

that smoke. Children are often more vulnerable to those pollutants for two main reasons.

The first being that because of their small size their heartbeats and metabolic rates are

faster. Therefore all reactions within their bodies including the harmful ones of pollutants

(chiefly the replacement of oxygen with carbon monoxide in the blood stream) take place

at an accelerated pace. The second is the relatively weak immune systems of young

children. Particulates that act as irritants take a greater toll on their still developing

bodies. The same threats that air pollution pose to young people effect older members of

society. Although their metabolic rates not high, their immune systems maybe equally as

weak. An investigation conducted by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation on

the joint effects of air pollution and smoking showed that smokers in Beijing, China

suffered from greater problems in their pulmonary artery functions. They also had a vital

lung capacity decrease of over 10%. It is apparent that our careless use of fossil fuels and

chemicals is destroying this planet. And it is now more than ever apparent that at the

same time we are destroying our bodies, proving that our pollution is not just a problem

that we can pass on to our children.


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