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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #011 - An overview of air pollution. October 1, 2004
September 28, 2004

Get your air pollution facts here!

I receive many emails asking about air pollution facts and think these introductory comments may help with some of the concerns expressed.

The main types of air pollution statistics we talk about are man made contaminants. If there is enough of them in the atmosphere we can find them harmful.

Gases form the first form of pollutants. Sulphur oxides, Carbon monoxide and Nitrogen oxides are the three main ones.

We concern ourselves with sulphur dioxide SO2 in the air quality business. It comes from burning things like oil and coal and damages plants and other objects, forms acid rain by transforming to sulphuric acid when mixed with water.

Cities have problems with Carbon monoxide. Cars produce this deadly poison, which can attack the central nervous system and cause heart problems.

Nitrogen compounds react with hydrocarbons to give ozone (harmful to plants). These chemicals come from combustion, such as car pollution.

layer ozone pollution

More air pollution facts.

We hear a lot about CFC's and HCFC's, not poisonous to humans, but rise to the stratosphere and break down the ozone layer, and letting too much ultraviolet radiation reach the earth. They come from aerosol sprays, foam insulation, electronics manufacturing and refigeration coolants.

Finally we have to mention the greenhouse gases, Carbon dioxide, Nitrous oxide and methane. They prevent heat from escaping from the earth and contribute to global warming.

The Second form of air pollution comes in the form of little solid specks of matter floating in the air. We get them from incomplete burning and include ashes, other fragments, smoke and dust. The problem is we can breathe these things in.

Volcanic ash is another example of this type of pollution. Volcanoes have enough power to blow their load right up into the stratosphere, where it can stay for a long time and cause unusually cold winters.

Other pollution types include irritating noise and light sources in inappropriate places.

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