Aug 05 10
There seems to be a general understanding that many of our daily activities negatively affect the environment and air around us. However, many people don’t have a grasp on the far reaching consequences of polluted air.Acid rain occurs when pollutants released combine with water in the air and disrupt the pH balance of rain water. This acidification not only is detrimental to plants and animals but it can lead to the decay of building materials and contributes to human health problems such as asthma. Air pollution also contributes to the “heat island effect,” which is a term coined to describe the warmer temperatures found within a city. The more concentrated pollutants in urban areas not only increase the temperature but result in poor air and water quality. Another serious problem occurring as a result of air pollution is the destruction of good ozone and creation of bad ozone. These terms may sound elementary but they actually have a significant impact on human health. Good ozone is a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that helps block UV rays from reaching the ground. As we destroy this layer, more UV rays get through and lead to increased incidence of skin cancer. The bad ozone occurs when pollutants react with sunlight creating a harmful compound. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the phrase “good up high bad nearby” to explain the different types of ozone. According to the EPA, “bad” ozone can cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation. It can also reduce the function of the lungs and prolonged exposure can result in scar tissue in the lungs. Days when the presence of ozone is the worst usually occur during the summer months. Ozone can also damage crops. The EPA estimates that ozone is the cause of 500 million worth of reduced crop production every year.