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Air pollution can be simply defined as "all the substances that are exhausted into the atmosphere that do not normally make up the air."(Sorvall 17) These substances are next divided into two basic categories: aerosols and unwanted gases. (Sorvall 18) Aerosols are tiny bits of solid matter that can be visibly floating around in the air, such as the particles that are released when using a can of hairspray or burning leaves in an open fire. The results of this pollution can be seen on mirrors or windows, giving them a sticky texture and a smudged appearance. Unwanted gases, on the other hand, are usually invisible; however, they are the most dangerous to the air. There are numerous types of these pollutants in the air, but carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides are, by far, the most common. Such particles are expelled daily by leniently controlled factories through the continuous outpour of smoke.
The primary process that creates air pollution is oxidation, which is simply defined as burning. (Sorvall 18) This process has been going on for centuries, beginning when man first became aware of a very useful cooking tool, what is now known as fire. Until recently, pollution from fires was seemingly insignificant because fires were previously used only in households and could be easily dispersed. However, as technology advanced, major industries developed and began to use fires as a source of energy for power plants and the disposal of garbage. This major increase in the usage of the oxidation process and the lack of knowledge of the hazards involved, contaminants in the air, as a result of factories excessive usage, has become a major environmental dilemma.
Though air pollution in some form has been around since the discovery of fire, it has only recently become known to be a major problem. Air pollution has long been a factor with the issue of protecting the environment. For example, in the nineteenth century, people in London, England complained about the foggy weather that was created by the smoke from burning coals in the homes of people, as well as places of business. (Sproull 18) In December of 1952, the worst air pollution disaster ever recorded also occurred in London. Nicknamed the "killer smog," this disaster occurred because of a temperature inversion, which is when warmer temperatures get hotter as they get further from the earth's surface rather than cooer as they usually do. In this particular event, a cool front also moved in below the warm air, which caused more people than usual to burn coal, which is high in sulfur. Because of the warm air that had risen, the smoke from the fireplaces had nowhere to rise and was being pushed back down. This string of events produced the "killer smog" which led to the deaths of more than fou
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
acid rain, petroleum products, exhaust systems, energy conservation, natural gas,
Organizations talked about in this essay
American Cancer Society, EPA, Chemical Safety Board, Environmental Protection Agency, Harvard University,
Locations mentioned in this essay
United States.”(Sorvall, London, England, United States, the East coast,
Health Conditions referenced in this term paper
cancer, asthma, respiratory diseases, bronchitis,
Keywords mentioned in this term paper
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