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Impacts of Air Pollution

Impacts of Air Pollution

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Author: Jensen Morgan
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This lesson discusses the different impacts of air pollution on the environment.

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Tutorial

Source: Earth PD http://bit.ly/1ESoBKp Greenhouse Effect PD http://bit.ly/1zjsqnL Earth PD http://bit.ly/1ESoBKp Smog CC http://bit.ly/1JmO2d0 Acid Rain PD http://bit.ly/1Ax4eUV Coal Plant CC http://bit.ly/1B2xUJ5

Video Transcription

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Hi. I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is impacts of air pollution. So let's get started.

We're going to talk about air pollution and five big environmental impacts it can have-- increasing the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, smog, acid rain, and impacts from particulate matter.

Certain gases, labeled greenhouse gases, can trap solar radiation from reflecting off into space. Essentially, solar radiation enters the atmosphere, bounces off of clouds and the Earth's surface back toward space, but is reflected back again by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which then returns the radiation as heat back to the Earth's surface.

This means that more radiation is trapped in the lower atmosphere of the Earth instead of being let back into space. The increasing greenhouse effect from greenhouse gases is leading to an acceleration of global climate change.

There is a naturally occurring layer in our atmosphere called the ozone layer. It protects the Earth from receiving too much solar radiation. However, air pollutants like chlorofluorocarbons can react with ozone and deplete the amount available in the upper atmosphere. The result is an increased amount of radiation reaching the Earth's surface, which can increase rates of cancer, skin cancer in particular.

Smog is created when ground-level ozone combines with pollutants such as sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, and other elements. Smog is usually the result of vehicle fumes, sunlight, and moisture. It can cause respiratory infections and damage, as well as harm the body's organs, tissues, and cardiovascular systems. Other health problems such as emphysema, asthma, and bronchitis can also result.

Acid rain results when pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides mixed with water in the air and then precipitate. Because air pollution can disperse and travel long distances through the air, impacts can result far from the source. Ecosystems near and far can experience acidified soils and damaged root systems from air pollution, which can prevent them from absorbing nutrients or providing stability in a storm.

Acid rain damages forests, creating uneven and sparse foliage, which reduces photosynthesis efficiency. And water systems, most commonly lakes, can become acidified, negatively impacting ecosystems and even killing species.

Pollutants which don't mix with water when they are airborne will eventually be deposited on land or in water systems. The impacts of particulate matter on human and ecosystem health can be damaging. Particulates can lead to damaged respiratory systems, as well as lead to infections. In addition, they can negatively impact cardiovascular systems, organs, and tissues. Illnesses like emphysema, asthma, and bronchitis can also result.

Now let's have a recap. Today we talked about air pollution and its impacts, such as the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, smog, acid rain, and particulate matter. Well, that's all for this tutorial. I look forward to next time. Bye.