Am I clean? Alyssa Abonitalla

BACKGROUND:

What does it mean to be clean? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of the term, clean, refers to being free from dirt or pollution; free from contamination or disease. Yes, these are true. However, have you ever thought to think of yourself being clean internally rather than externally? A main contender for our internal impurities can be traced back to pollution, from the four main sources of air pollution those being; mobile, stationary, area, and natural. More specifically, stationary sources of pollution play a vital role. Backtracking a bit, stationary sources are based from factories, refineries, power plants and many more that emit a multitude of air pollutants. There are six pollutants that are common and are also known as "criteria air pollutants"; carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. Each of these pollutants are absorbed into our world on a daily basis and it is quickly weakening by the second.

Above: Notice it looks similar to fog, when in fact, it is smog.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROBLEM?

Air pollution is one of the most harmful and holds a spot within the top ten killers in the world. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that about 4.6 million people die from the effects of air pollution each year. In places with more harsher conditions of air pollution, like China, lose four-thousand people each day from the impact of the polluted air entering their system. Not only that, but those who have asthma, suffer more than most. Why? Air pollution holds potential to cause disease and place people in hospitals due to the microscopic particles that manage to enter the body's respiratory system. Even with a moderate measurement of the AQI could easily place someone with asthma into the hospital.

Also, stationary sources such as industries and power plants oftentimes are situated in areas with easy disposal of waste, like being near the ocean of landfill. In fact, most industries that use water in the assembly line, take the waste of the water and dump it straight into our oceans, the home of the sea life. This is a problem because it can lead to ocean acidification; the process by which carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean which weakens the frames of coral reefs, and hard-shelled sea life.

  • Smog (an atmospheric pollutant), worsens those with asthma and can cause lung damage.
  • Breathing in Beijing's air equates to smoking forty cigarettes per day.
  • Since 1750, we've released 2,000+ gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (1 Gigatonne= 1,000,000,000 metric tons).
  • 56% of CO2 emissions have been absorbed by the ocean and plants.
  • Technology plays a role to our health, before the Industrial Revolution, the world was in much better shape than it is now.
  • We had over-industrialized, which has caused our world to become frail and weak.
Above: the effects of ocean acidification; coral reefs loose their vibrant colors and the sea life that surrounded the reef have moved on or passed on.

WHAT IS BEING DONE NOW?

There had been many passings of laws and regulations that check the air quality index (AQI) every so often to ensure that, say the industrial sites are not over-producing and emitting too many toxins into the atmosphere. For example: the Clean Air Act (CAA), is a law that regulates the air emissions from stationary sources; passed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition to the laws, there had been a variety of petitions floating around that spoke of reduction of polluting our home. How? Well, some everyday tasks that are performed emit many toxins and a vast majority of the petitions focused to decrease the usage of the tasks. Those tasks could be as simple as biking instead of driving, or changing out the type of paint that is used on the exterior of our homes. In fact, a lot of the paint that is used to paint homes are a beautiful blend of toxins that can, not only affect the atmosphere, but the users behind the brush.

WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?

That is a mighty fine question, what can we do? Why not take a trip to one of the neighboring industrial sites and take samples from their soils and the water surrounding that area? By doing so, this will enable us to be able to test the toxicity within the land and the water, with proper equipment. If we are able to figure out what specific toxins are in the environment, we can act on that to figure out how to decrease the amount that is being emitted into the air. Also, when we take the pH of the waters, it will help us determine if the water is acidic; this will lead us to conclude if our shellfish and coral reefs are in potential danger. After conducting this research, it may be wise to bring this up to the EPA so that they may find a way to drastically lower our emissions, if not, all.

WORKS CITED:

  • "What Can I Do to Help Reduce Air Pollution?" (2017, February 17). Retrieved from http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/carbon-emissions-and-sinks.
  • "Summary of the Clean Air Act" (2017, February 17). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-air-act.
  • Wilson, Lindsey. "Global carbon emissions and sinks since 1750". Retrieved from http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/carbon-emissions-and-sinks.
  • Millner, Jack. (2015, August 18). "Breathing in Beijing's air is the equivalent to smoking FORTY cigarettes a day: Smog map of China reveals shocking extent of pollution". Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3201954/Breathing-Beijing-s-air-equivalent-smoking-FORTY-cigarettes-day-Smog-map-China-reveals-shocking-extent-pollution.html.
  • "Air Pollution" (2017, February). Retrieved from http://www.aafa.org/page/air-pollution-smog-asthma.aspx
  • Stratford, Helena. (2016, May 5). "How Paint Pollution Effects the Environment". Retrieved from http://www.pollutionissues.co.uk/how-paint-pollution-effects-environment.html
  • "Clean". (2017, February 17). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clean

Credits:

Created with images by SD-Pictures - "industry sunrise sky" • Unsplash - "industry industrial smoke" • prilfish - "Dead Corals"

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