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Air Pollution

What are air pollutants?

gases and aerosols we add to
best known is smog
industrial - smoke and fog
photochemical - emissions + sunlight

US has worked to control most air

pollutants for many years

Why do we care?

visual quality of the environment

vegetation, animals, soil
water quality
natural and artificial structures
human health

Major Air Pollutants

sulfur oxides (SOx)

nitrogen oxides (NOx)
carbon monoxide (CO)
ozone and other photochemical oxidants
volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
suspended particulate matter
lead (Pb)
air toxics

Many adverse effects from

these pollutants


Atmospheric inversions

Great London Smog of 1952

1000s died, much of country


Primary and Secondary Pollutants

primary pollutants

those emitted directly into the air

hydrocarbons, particulates, SOx, NOx

secondary pollutants

produced through reactions between

primary pollutants and normal atmospheric

What are sources?

combustion of fossil fuels (coal, gasoline,

always incomplete combustion

stationary versus mobile sources
what comes out stack are primary pollutants
direct products of combustion

USEPA measures ambient concentrations

1970 Clean Air Act - taller stacks to meet ground
level standards

Sudbury, Ontario
1250 feet tall

US Emissions for 2011

Trends in Growth vs. Emissions


Ozone (O3)
good versus bad ozone

ground versus stratosphere

ground level major pollutant

billions of dollars in crop losses each

respiratory hazard for human health

not easy to reduce

Ozone (O3)
secondary pollutant
photochemical oxidant

source is VOCs, NO2, and sunlight

most cities dont meet ozone
difficult (expensive) to reduce car
emissions further

Ozone Monitoring

Ozone in the Midwest

Ozone Impact on Crop Yields

Acid rain (acidic deposition)

SOx H2SO4 (sulfuric acid)

NOx HNO3 (nitric acid)
long-range transport
pH < 5.6
both precipitation and dry deposition

Major Sources of SO2 Emitters

pH scale

Acid rain effects

Bondville, IL

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acid rain effects on aquatic


Acid rain today

still affecting forests
and surface waters
more of a nitrogen
than sulfur problem
certainly 1990 Clean
Air Act helped

Air Pollution: Legislation and

Clean Air Act of 1970

amendments in 1977 and 1990

Amendments of 1990

comprehensive regulations enacted by U.S

congress that address acid rain, toxic
emissions, ozone depletion and automobile
in 1990 more flexibility, market system allows
polluters to choose most cost effective

still cant meet ozone standards

SO2 scrubber

SoyFace at the University of



both ozone and CO2

atmosphere of the future
examine effects on soybean
many scientists involved

Air pollution today

we have made major improvements
lead, SOx, other gases

ozone still biggest problem

billions in crop losses

cars large sources, although each car

is now much cleaner