ARTICLE TYPE: REVIEW
dids/doi No.: 01.2016-19818151
dids link: http://dids.info/didslink/06.2016-17413996/
Defining “air pollution” is not straightforward. One could state that air pollution started when humans began burning fuels. In other words, all man-made (anthropogenic) emissions into the air can be called air pollution, because they alter the chemical composition of the natural atmosphere. The increase in the global concentrations of greenhouse gases CO2, CH4, and N2O, can be called air pollution using this approach, even though the concentrations have not found to be toxic for humans and the ecosystem. One can refine this approach and only consider anthropogenic emissions of harmful chemicals as air pollution. A wide range of chemicals can pollute the air, but only those pollutants which are generally viewed as needing control measures are discussed in this chapter and in the next chapter. Many forms of atmospheric pollution affect human health and the environment at levels from local to global. These contaminants are emitted from diverse sources, and some of them react together to form new compounds in the air. Industrialized nations have made important progress toward controlling some pollutants in recent decades, but air quality is much worse in many developing countries, and global circulation patterns can transport some types of pollution rapidly around the world. In this unit, discover the basic chemistry of atmospheric pollution and learn which human activities have the greatest impacts on air quality.
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- National Academies of Science, Urbanization, Energy, and Air Pollution in China: The Challenges Ahead (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004), p. 3.
- U.S. Geological Survey, Glacial Ice Cores Reveal A Record of Natural and Anthropogenic Atmospheric Mercury Deposition for the Last 270 Years, June 2002, http://toxics.usgs.gov/pubs/FS-051-02/.
- For the latest version, see U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fish Advisories, http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/.