History of Air Pollution      (hear this part)

Current Status/Recent Events Concerning Air Pollution      (hear this part)

Analyze the Reasons      (hear this part)

Evaluate Previous Attempts to End The Problem      (hear this part)

Predict the Ultimate Outcome to this Problem      (hear this part)

Propose a Reasonable and Realistic Solution to Solve the Problem Peacefully      (hear this part)

Works Sited

Look at my Power Point Presentation

History of Air Pollution

    As human beings, we have polluted the air since the cave man days. Prehistoric man made fires in the cave and the cave would soon fill with smoke. In early 4000 B.C., as clay was baked and glazed to make pottery, smoke once again would pollute the air. All this was not incredibly dangerous, but in the Bronze and Iron ages smoke and particles started to pollute the atmosphere. Around A.D. 1000, coal became the main way to heat and in A.D. 1600, it was used for cooking. Since A.D. 61, people have been complaining about the air. Senece, a Roman philosopher wrote, "As soon as I had gotten out of the heavy air of Rome and from the stink of the smoky chimneys thereof, which, poured fourth whatever pestilential vapors and soot they had enclosed in them, I felt an alteration of my disposition.". Since the beginning of mankind, we have polluted the air with smoke, particles, and wastes; and we continue to make it worse.

    Now that we have looked at the far past, let us look at the near past. Around the 1600's, people started to burn coal for cooking and warmth. The burning of coal produces Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Carbon dioxide (CO2), Mercury (Hg), Nickel (Ni), Nitric oxides (NOx), and Sulfur dioxide (SO2). (Environmental Hazards: Air Pollution: pg. 52) These chemicals are formed from burning one piece of coal! All the compounds listed above destroy the ozone layer, damage the respiratory system of humans and animals, harm the nervous system of humans, sting your eyes, destroy plants, form smog, and acid rain!

    Ever since the Industrial Revolution there have been new chemicals and compounds being released in the air. Pesticides, car emotions, household cleaners, air fresheners, smoke, and fertilizers all hurt the earth in one way or another.

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Current Status/Recent Events Concerning Air Pollution

    Currently there are thousands of factories polluting the air every minute. Every time a car is turned on it releases carbon monoxide into the air destroying the ozone layer, a layer of ozone in the stratosphere that blocks ultraviolet radiation. There are also many household cleaners and fresheners releasing ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons into the air. Even a fire in a fireplace can affect the air. During six days in December of 1952, Mother Nature stepped in to show how much danger we are in from polluting the air we breathe.

    On December fourth, a high-pressure system moved into London and stalled. The clouds trapped air pollution produced by London factories. For the next 6 days, the smog continued to build and the visibility levels dropped to a few feet. The hospitals in London were full of sick people and all over the city there was continuous coughing. On December tenth, the high-pressure system finally moved out, leaving 4,000 Londoners dead from the effects of large amounts of air pollution (Environmental Hazards: Air Pollution: pg. 35)

    Britain is not the only nation that produces air pollution. All over the world, right now, there are pollutants going into the air. The most dangerous pollutants are ODS, or ozone-depleting substances. An example of ODS are CFC's, or chlorofluorocarbons. These CFC's are released into the air when they are used as refrigerants, solvents, foam blowing agents, and aerosols. What happens when one of these is released into the air? The CFC's ride on air currents throughout the atmosphere and slowly travel up to the stratosphere. From there ultraviolet radiation breaks the CFC's into chlorine atoms that attach to ozone particles and destroy them. A single atom of chlorine can destroy more than 100,000 molecules of ozone! (www.hpedsb.on.ca/ec/est/sec/mp/resource/air.html) Recently there are holes in the ozone layer over the Antarctica and the North Pole.

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Analyze the Reasons

Though there are natural events that cause ozone depletion, man does the bulk of it. Scientists have estimated that 85 % of the chlorine in the stratosphere is man made while 15% of it comes from natural sources. (Environmental Hazards: Air Pollution. pg. 60) Man-made sources of air pollution are factories, cars, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, and pesticides. Natural sources of air pollution are volcanic eruptions and natural gas springs.

    The air pollution given off by factories travels all over the world, creating days where you think it is foggy but it is actually smog. Breathing smog can cause lung problems and sometimes cancer. The use of aerosol sprays and refrigerants has lead to the release of chlorofluorocarbons that turn to chlorine in the stratosphere and destroy ozone. Scientists have found that 60% of the ozone layer around the poles is gone and UV radiation is very high. (www.lungusa.org/air/children_factsheet99.html) With more UV radiation the chances of developing skin cancer is greater. Ultraviolet radiation also plays a major role in malignant melanoma development. Increased UV radiation would also cause destruction of crops, plastics and other materials, and it also harms certain types of marine life. Another source of air pollution is pesticides. Pesticides are dangerous because once they are sprayed they ride air currents, like CFC's, and can travel for miles. They contaminate the land and can be breathed in by the animals and people who live there.

Even Nature contributes to the problem of air pollution. Animals like cows release methane gas into the atmosphere. Volcanic eruptions can even have an indirect effect on the ozone layer. (www.onlineathens.com/1998/070998/0709.a2govbarnes.html) Eruptions create tiny particles called aerosol (not the consumer product). These particles then combine with chlorine atoms in the air making them more potent.

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Evaluate Previous Attempts to End The Problem

    Over the last two decades, people started to look at air pollution as a world problem. They began to think about ways to end air pollution. Today, many people are trying to stop it; even some governments are getting into the fight. There are groups big and small trying to solve this problem, from NASA to Clean The Air in Hong Kong. Some of the groups go to the nation's governments demanding that laws be passed that will help end air pollution. NASA has created a device that will measure the levels of certain pollutants found in cars. Glen Sachse, senior research scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. said, "Taking an accurate reading of several exhaust products as a car passes by is a formidable challenge. We want to take a measurement of all the gases of interest every one thousandth of a second over a period of a half-second." (www.zone10.com/wsdocs/tech/NASA/fyh.htm)

    Many strong nations' governments have passed laws regulating the air pollution so it will stay at the same levels. It has taken many years and millions of dollars to raise people's awareness and pass laws regulating air pollution. These governments have begun to educate people on the causes and dangers of air pollution. The less powerful countries, on the other hand, are trying to grow and become economically strong. Third world countries do not have the money to spend to make their factories less pollutant. They do not have the resources to pass and enforce laws against air pollution.

    Many smaller groups are also trying to make the governments of the world pass more strict laws. An example is Clean the Air In Hong Kong that, as their name implies, is trying to make the air over Hong Kong cleaner. (http://www3.cleartheair.org.hk/youdo.htm)

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Predict the Ultimate Outcome to this Problem

    For years now people have been trying to solve the problem of air pollution. They have helped lessen pollution only in the stronger, more economically developed nations. In the Third World countries the story is very different. They do not have the money to spend on making their factories less polluting or to stop builders from using CFC's as insulation. So how will mankind be able to solve the problem of air pollution?

    Mankind has always polluted, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, from Ancient Rome to the present. Even once man had realized he was polluting the air, it has been difficult to stop. Unless we can stop polluting and help the third world countries with their problems, the pollution will get only worse. There are many groups out there trying to stop the pollution, but they are slow in doing anything because our governments push these issues away and look at other problems like Iraq.

    Unless we change our ways, the zone layer is going to disappear and our lives will change forever. A blanket of smog would surround the world and there would be an outbreak of illnesses like cancer and upper respiratory infections. (www.lungusa.org/air/children_factsheet99.html) There would be starvation as crops diminished and marine life would die. Satellites would be unable to track weather patterns because of pollution interference. Global warming would take place and the weather would become more violent. Acid rain would fall which would destroy the land. Life on earth would become very difficult and many life forms, including man, would become extinct. The atmosphere might become so full of flammable pollutants that lightening would cause firestorms.

    These are only predictions because no one knows the true outcomes. However, I believe that these could happen. If we do not stop the pollution now, there will be problems for mankind in the future.

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Propose a Reasonable and Realistic Solution to Solve the Problem Peacefully

There really is no one true way of ending air pollution. It would have to be a slow gradual move to none polluting energy. We would need to educate the masses on air pollution and support third world countries to grow economically. It would not be easy, it would not be cheap, but there might just be hope for the future.

    I believe that the public has to be informed on the dangers of air pollution. They have to be shown what the bottle of air freshener is doing or what the cleaning agent is doing to the environment. There needs to be an understanding on the dangers of ozone depletion and how it is caused. All factories that emit air pollution should be required to use filters can be cleaned and reused.

    Mankind also needs to find an alternate source of energy that doesn't pollute. Oil, Gas, and coal power plants are abundant and pollute the skies. These power plants use the remains of once living things and are not only in limited supply but cause air pollution. We need more solar, wind, hydroelectric, and tidal power plants to give us power through natural forces. We even have to find new ways of powering cars. We are making battery-powered cars but they are small, hard to find, and are relatively inefficient.

    Third world countries are major polluters because they either don't have the money or they don't have the technology. If all the 1st world countries joined in and help the developing nations, the air pollution levels would decrease. We should not try to ban them from polluting because that would start wars and that would be a negative experience for all the people.

    Since the beginning of mankind, we have polluted the air with smoke, particles, and wastes; and we continue to make it worse. We might be able to look towards science for other answers. For example, we could fund research that would come up with a device that can filter pollution out of the air and make it into usable substances and materials. The answers would depend on money and imagination.

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Works Sited:


Agent Orange. www.anglefire.com/id2/aofiles/aomain12.html (27-2-01)


Air Pollution. www.hpedsb.on.ca/ec/est/sec/mp/resource/air.html (27-2-01)


Air Pollution – Solutions. http://dev.thinkquest.org/26026/Environmental_Problems/air_pollution_-_solutions.html (1-3-01)


American Lung Association®. www.lungusa.org/air/children_factsheet99.html (1-3-01)


Barnes offers his own pollution solutions. http://www.onlineathens.com/1998/070998/0709.a2govbarnes.html (1-3-01)


Clear The Air -- Hong Kong. http://www3.cleartheair.org.hk/youdo.htm (3-3-01)


Contemporary World Issues

Environmental Hazards: Air Pollution

Miller, Eugene Willard, Miller Ruby M.. A Prospective. Pesticides. Contemporary World Issues Santa Barbara, Ca: ABC-CLIO, inc. 1989


Contemporary World Issues

Environmental Hazards: Toxic Waste and Hazardous Material

Miller, Eugene Willard, Miller Ruby M.. Pesticides. Contemporary World Issues Santa Barbara, Ca: ABC-CLIO, inc. 1991



News Release - NASA Satellite Technology to Monitor Motor Vehicle Pollution. http://oea.larc.nasa.gov/news_rels/2000/00-057.html (28-2-01)


Plants Clean the Air. www.zone10.com/wsdocs/tech/NASA/fyh.htm (28-2-01)

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