Essay Investigating Air Pollution

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Investigating Air Pollution

There are many different types of air pollutant. These pollutants have different effects on the environment and on our health. Some, directly because they are harmful chemicals and others because they can react together to produce harmful chemicals. Other pollutants or pollutant combinations upset the natural balance of acidity and nitrogen in the environment which can affect the diversity of species in sensitive areas. Other pollutants can contribute to changing global conditions and potentially give rise to dramatic changes in climate and sea level.

Main Air Pollutants

Sulphur dioxide is an acidic gas which combines with water vapour in the atmosphere to
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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas which is emitted into the atmosphere as a result of combustion processes, and is also formed by the oxidation of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds. In European urban areas, CO is produced almost entirely (90%) from road traffic emissions. It survives in the atmosphere for a period of approximately one month but is eventually oxidised to carbon dioxide (CO2).

Nitrogen Dioxide. Nitrogen oxides are formed during high temperature combustion processes from the oxidation of nitrogen in the air or fuel. The principal source of nitrogen oxides - nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), collectively known as NOx - is road traffic, which is responsible for approximately half the emissions in Europe. NO and NO2 concentrations are therefore greatest in urban areas where traffic is heaviest. Other important sources are power stations, heating plants and industrial processes.

Ground-level ozone (O3), unlike other pollutants mentioned , is not emitted directly into the atmosphere, but is a secondary pollutant produced by reaction between nitrogen dioxide (NO2), hydrocarbons and sunlight. Ozone levels are not as high in urban areas (where high levels of NO are emitted from vehicles) as in rural areas. Sunlight provides the energy to initiate ozone formation; consequently,

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