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Air Pollution

What Are Mobile Sources

What Are Mobile Sources

The Mobile sources of air pollution are automobiles,
planes, trains, and boats. If a vehicle or vessel is equipped with an internal
combustion, jet, or diesel Engine, it contributes to air pollution. All
motorized vehicles create pollution while the engine is turned on.

The greater contributor to air pollution are jet planes. The Airplane industry, airports,
and pilots are first and foremost concerned with flight safety. However,
environmental regulations are also important to the airplane industry. 

Airplanes make the largest contribution to air pollution
by generating tonnes of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic
compounds. Carbon dioxide is believed to be a major contributor to
anthropogenic global warming. Nitrogen oxide also contributes to global
warming; however, it is better known as the force behind smog.

Volatile organic
compounds vary. Many VOCs are well-known carcinogenic substances. Planes burn
tonnes and tonnes of fuel. In the United States, alone over 500 million miles
were flown in 2008 alone. Airplanes are the least fuel efficient vehicles
because they are constantly battling gravity and air resistance.

Air plan
manufacturers have built planes faster and more efficient with the
implementation of the jet engine after WWII. Commercial aviation exploded after
the Jet engine made for safe and rapid travel. Propeller planes are equipped
with diesel engines that make their own pollutants.

Diesel engines are extremely common. Many freight trains,
boats, freight trucks, and personal vehicles are equipped with diesel engines.
Older diesel engines produced thick plumes of black smoke. The benefit of
diesel is that it burns fuel very slowly.

The EPA worked in collaboration with
engine manufacturers to produce less pollution from diesel engines. The EPA has
mandated clean burning diesel engines to be equipped on all cars and trucks
manufactured after 2005. Diesel has become cleaner than it used to be but is
still a big polluter. The trucking industry is the greater contributor to
diesel related air pollution.  

Regular Gasoline powered internal combustion engines are
also major contributors to air pollution. Well over 90% of all personal
vehicles have gasoline powered internal combustion engines. Their pollution is
similar to that of diesel engines, without the nasty black cloud of smoke.
Automobiles used to put lead into the air as pollution.

Lead poisoning causes
infertility and permanent brain damage in small children. Lead used to be an
additive in fuel. The Federal Clean Air Act banned the addition of lead to gasoline. By
1990, no on or off-road cars or trucks were able to run on leaded fuels. This
legislation was mandated thanks to the invention of the catalytic converter.
Prior to that invention lead was added to fuel to prevent engines from

The catalytic converter served this purpose by regulating the flow
of gas through the exhaust. The catalytic converter also reduced other air
pollution significantly. Cars from before the late 1970s polluted more than
newer cars. Modern cars still add pollutants like hydrocarbons, benzene,
nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and carbon monooxide. Car pollution is
responsible for the infamous could of haze that floats over the City of Los

What Are Stationary Sources

What Are Stationary Sources

The stationary contributors to the pollution of air are buildings. Commercial, industrial, and residential buildings are all contributors to the pollution of air. Air pollution that come from stationary sources localize air pollution more than vehicles do. Cities have more visible air pollution than most areas because they are economic centers of commerce and industry. Participants in commerce and industry also live there, so their residences also pollute. 

Commercial and residential buildings produce similar air pollution. Both of these buildings release pollutants into the air through their HVAC systems. Houses with fireplaces release particulate matter into the air that can exacerbate one’s case of asthma.

Building construction and demolition is also a big contributor of particulate air pollution. Air conditioning systems used a great many chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to aid in the compression of air. CFCs were later discovered to contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer of the atmosphere that filters most of the Sun’s harmful rays. Compressing air is what cools the air in air conditioning. A different chemical is used to today to do the same task.

Today, air conditioners still use chlorofluorocarbons but they use much less than they had in the past.  Heaters burn diesel fuel or or natural gas to keep buildings warm. The burning of these types of fuel release air pollutants like nitrogen oxide. They are also implicated in connection to anthropogenic global warming.

Industrial buildings and facilities are the most visible polluters of air. Power plants, factories, and other types of production facilities are infamous for their gas belching smokestacks.

Beginning in the 1970s, the government created legislation to combat industrial air pollution more than anything else. Many industrial facilities are subject to quarterly environmental inspection and are required to use specific filters and equipment to mitigate pollution. Industrial pollution has the closest connections to chronic respiratory illnesses and laws have been made to decrease the rates at which people are getting sick. Industrial pollution of air presents an economic as well as ethical dilemma.

It is ethical to save as many lives from air pollution from industry. However, many of the people who are getting sick are employees of the polluting industries. This is essentially the story of coal mining in West Virginia. Countless West Virginians have chronic respiratory illnesses as a result of their robust and lucrative coal industry.

Whenever federal measures are put on the table to mitigate the air pollution from the coal processing plants, they are voted down because West Virginia’s economy affords little other economic opportunities.  Air pollution regulations go as far as to reduce instead eliminate because industrial civilization has yielded countless benefits. Sometimes the benefits outweigh costs.

Tragically, the opposite is also true and are perpetuated for mere economic reasons. Pollution laws are all based on cost-benefit analysis and laws are changed when the factors that contributed to the original cost-benefit analysis err on the side of tragic costs.  Sometimes this reaction is delayed and people lose their lives instead of their livelihoods.