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Atmospheric Conditions Compared to Indoor Air Pollution Essay

There are many different air pollution problems that exist today. Ozone depletion, climate change conditions, volcanic eruptions, acid rains, and motor vehicle exhaust to name a few. One particular problem that is wide spread is “acid rain”. Acid rain is an effect caused by natural as well as man-made pollution, with a mixture of wet and dry deposited materials in our atmosphere containing nitric and sulfuric acids higher than normal amounts. Increase of these chemical compounds is caused from exhaust from burning of fossil fuels such as automobiles, electric power generation as well as volcanic eruptions and activity and natural plant decay. www. epa. gov).

Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides are emitted from power generation and other sources where acid rain is created when these gases react with other components of the atmosphere, water, oxygen, and other acid compounds resulting in creation of sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Prevailing winds cause these particulates to spread out over long distances over wide spread regions. These acid rains are of environmental and quality of living concerns.

Water vapors from acid rain can enter into the homes through open windows, poor insulation around doors and windows, ventilation systems and vent pipes that can affect air quality of the home as well as outside environments. Some of the environmental effects of acid rain can cause paint to peel, steal corrosion of bridges and structures, erosion of stone buildings and statues affecting the quality of air and life in residential and commercial areas. (http://en. wikipedia. org). Ground water supply sources can become contaminated and affects everything the water is used for.

Acid rain can have harmful effects on animals, aquatic life, plants and their ecosystems. The effects are greater lakes, streams, wetlands and aquatic environments. Acid rain causes waters to become acidic and absorb aluminum deposits from runoff from the soils around them. The combination of this and the results of the chemical reaction make the water toxic to shell fish, crayfish and other aquatic species. Even though some species tolerate acidic waters, interconnected ecosystems that impact certain species will eventually impact others along the food chain.

The damaging effects of acid rain on plant life are quite dramatic. Damage to forests in higher elevations is more apparent than lower lying regions. The acid content is at a higher level and leaches the soil nutrients and releasing aluminum making it harder for trees and plant life to absorb water. In lower lying areas the effects of acid rain, environmental stressors, and poor soil quality on plant life and trees cause them to become weaker where they cannot tolerate temperatures too cold or too hot, resist infestation of insects and susceptible to disease, and inhibit the ability to reproduce.

Some areas the soil is better equipped to neutralize the acids in a “buffering capacity” that varies from region to region. (www. environment. nationalgeographic). By curbing the use of fossil fuel burning will decrease the forming of acid rains and conservation efforts of individuals. Not only is acid rain damaging to the outside environment, but also on inside air quality of the home. Physical contact of acid rain from rain droplets or swimming in acidic recreational waterways has little effect on human health.

However, the pollutants that cause acid rain are associated with increasing the risks of health problems including respiratory and other illnesses. These pollutants infiltrate into indoor living spaces and cause many respiratory illnesses, breathing disorders including asthma and can even cause death. By improving ventilation systems and air purification techniques of the home, using better insulation and installing energy efficient windows and doors will greatly improve air quality of the home and diminish the risk factors from outside air pollution. http://greenliving. nationlageographic. com).

Laws, such as the Clean Air Act has improved greatly the air quality. The EPA, through monitoring, and imposing strict guidelines on release of toxins in fossil fuel burning industries. The EPA has reported that from 1980 and 2009, the national average of sulfur dioxide content in the air has decreased by 76 percent, and the amount of nitrogen dioxide decreased by 48 percent. Congress has also created the Acid Rain Program Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment.

Some of the EPA’s initiatives are the SO2 Reductions and Allowances Trading under the Acid Rain Program involves Phase 1, which imposed tightened annual emission limits of higher emitting plants by installing pollution control devices. Allowance trading systems contributes the low-cost rules of exchange minimizing government intrusions and allowance trading to prepare for a viable compliance tool in reduction of SO2. (www. epa. gov).

Another asset implemented by the EPA and Congress in the Clean Air Act Amendment is the reduction of NOx beginning in 1995 through 2000 as a two phase program concerning coal-fired electric electricity utility boilers. Phase 1 covered Group 1 Boilers and Phase 2 covered Group 1 and 2 boilers. Group 1 boilers are tangentially dry bottom fired boilers which has a tendency to give off higher NOx concentrations than Group 2 wet bottom wall fired boilers. Although the NOx reduction program incorporates many of the same characteristics as the SO2 program, it does not include allowance trading or caps the NOx emissions. www. epa. gov).

The EPA also requires participants of programs to install, monitor and report data so tracking of the progress can be compiled on quarterly, semi-annually, and yearly bases. Monitoring devices known as CEMS (Continuous Emissions Monitoring System) are required to be installed and maintained by the participants. In the event that data is not compiled or not reported during a reporting period, the applicants will be considered non-compliant and the units deemed out of control for that period and fines incurred to the applicants. (www. epa. gov).

The EPA requires any new or upgraded boilers or generating plants to install pollution control devices to capture, or remove sulfur before burning the fuel, and stack collectors for NOx particulates. There are several types of pollution control devices in use, and, depending on the fuels burned, amount of fuel burned, boiler types, amount of electricity produced and type of “stacks” used for venting on which device will meet the appropriate application. With the aide of the EPA and other government and private pollution control departments involved our air quality has improved greatly in the past few decades.

With contributions of these departments and each individual persons working together to improve air quality of our open spaces and within businesses and homes will bring us that much closer to improving our world air quality for the new generation growing now, and even better for future generations. Keeping due diligence in our efforts ensures the planets recovery not only in air pollution, not only, but also our environment as a whole improving quality of life for all organisms large and small.

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