Main Sources Of Manmade Air Pollutants

Posted by: | Posted on: February 11, 2014
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According to the US EPA and the European Lung Foundation there are many pollutants that, but the most significant and dangerous ones are:

  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Lead
  • Particulate Matter

This by far not an extensive list, but it does give a brief overview. The thing is that the majority of people will think that these are products of heavy industry like power plants and oil refineries. While this is certainly true, it is by far not the full extent. The average citizen releases these same pollutants while commuting to work, heating or cooling the home, and essentially we are the customers of the big stationary factories that pump out the and many more chemicals into the atmosphere.

We cannot even hide behind our efforts to regulate and limit their release within our communities like the EU. Because so many products we buy are made all over the world we are effectively paying for the pollution to happen. And unless we change our lifestyle and buying decisions this will not change significantly enough.

The danger with such chemicals being release is that they do dissipate quickly in our atmosphere and it only very rare incidents result in very sudden harmful effects. But when looking at measurements of chemical content in the atmosphere over a longer period of time it is very clear that these materials may dissipate, but they are gradually accumulating.

Certain chemicals have seen a great reduction or levelling off in concentration over time, and these are some success stories that people should hold up. Anyone remember DDT? But the real danger lies in these materials that are toxic at a certain unknown level. Scientists are spending huge amount of time to try and identify those toxic levels, but if it takes them too long, and we get to the toxic level before they figure it out in labs?

The effects of the above chemicals are profound. The discussions around the effects of CO2 are long and it is pretty clear what the outcome is. But because the effects are slow impacting it is difficult to get people to take drastic and immediate action.

Lead levels in the atmosphere have reduced, but the dangerous thing about lead is that it accumulates in the food chain, especially for sea living animals. One of the main sources of lead pollution was the use as an additive to the gas you put in your cars. The use of lead has long been prohibited, but its true effects are still unknown. How many health problems of today can be traced back to small amounts of lead?

The question is whether we as the people and the parents of the future generation should allow for risks to be taken with chemical build up in the atmosphere. Should there be a public opposition to the chemical air pollution levels set for today’s businesses and citizens? Erring on the safe side is by far the more prudent way to approach this subject.

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