Ch. 15 Air Pollution

    chapter 15: air pollution

    Big ideas: air is shared by everyone on the planet, crosses international borders without consent, impacts innocents with little power.

    6 major pollutants: “criteria pollutants”

    1. Sulfur dioxide: SO2
    2. Nitrogen oxides:NOx
    3. Carbon monoxide: CO
    4. Particulate matter: PM (PM 2.5, PM 5, PM10)
    5. Ozone: O3
    6. Lead: Pb

    Mnemonic: SOX/NOX, CO/O3, PM/Pb

    2007 add CO2, VOC, Hg

    Click for full-size image


    From Methionine (amino acid in living things) in fossil fuels

    Combines with water in the air to make H2SO4 (sulfuric acid)


    Various forms of oxidized nitrogen, which alone is inert and makes up 78% of the atmosphere at sea level

    From high temperature combustion (e.g. auto engines, esp. high efficiency ones, which burn at higher temps)

    Also from decomposition of fertilizers (e.g. Ammonium Nitrate)

    CO carbon monoxide

    Emission from car exhaust, or other incomplete combustion:

    C + O2 —> CO2

    If not enough O2, then CO forms

    Toxic, permanently attaches to hemoglobin rendering it useless for respiration. 30 day life cycle for hemoglobin

    See also CO2 and climate change, > 400ppm since 2012, 407ppm today

    Air Quality monitoring: Purple Air:


    Check out other locations...


    PM2.5 is most dangerous, smaller particles lodge deep in the lungs, beyond ability of pulmonary cilia to flush out

    PM5, PM10 larger particles

    Main cause: coal fired power plants, diesel engines, oil fired power plants (soot)

    See also vog: PM2.5 particles of ash with SO2 dissolved in water droplets: physical abrasive + corrosive acid = respiratory damage


    Ozone in stratosphere is good, in troposphere bad

    Stratospheric ozone is necessary to filter UV radiation. CFC (chloro-fluro-carbons) destroy this layer this way:

    This caused an ozone hole over antarctica:

    How did we solve this? 1987 Montreal Protocol:

    Tropospheric ozone causes lung and eye irritation, and is toxic to some organisms


    Gasoline additive (tetraethyl lead, improves octane rating cheaply), replaced by other worse carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals like MTBE:


    Decreases mental capacity (e.g. Roman insanity theory)

    Found in coal smoke, along with Mercury and other heavy metals. Sludge from mining is worse.


    Volatile organic compounds, e.g. gasoline vapors (why your gas cap must be on or you get a dashboard warning):


    Smog and other photochemical reactions:

    Click for full-size image

    Primary and secondary pollutants:

    Secondary pollutants: need a chemical reaction (often energy from sunlight) to form (see figures above)

    See PANs: Peroxyacyl nitrates: formed from VOCs, NOx


    Thermal inversions: London fog, US, Donora, PA 1948 k.20, sick 7000

    1952 London 4000-12,000 dead, three nights

    Mexico city 1996 300 dead, 400K sick


    Normally, the sun heats the surface, warming the air there, which rises. Cooler air aloft then falls to replace this rising air.

    In an inversion, warmer air aloft traps the air at the surface (no temperature difference, so no mixing), causing the pollution to be trapped in the lower levels. Most dangerous in valleys or bowl shaped cities (London, Mexico City, Denver, Donora).

    Los Angeles has severe smog in the daytime, when hotter air draws in ocean air ("onshore breeze"), but the cycle reverses at night when the water is warmer than the land, so they have an "offshore breeze".

    Acid rain: plants, fish, structures. Check this out:

    SO2 + O2, water = H2SO4 (sulfuric acid)

    NO3 + O2, water = HNO3 (nitric acid)

    “Acid snow” yes, acid snow...

    Click for full-size image

    W. VA had rain more acidic than stomach acid in the 1970's

    Important: Know how a power plant air scrubber works (just like the nuclear plant diagram)

    Click for full-size image

    IAP-indoor air pollution

    Leading cause of death in LDC (women)

    Burning manure for fuel, open pit fires, CO, PM10

    Sick building syndrome: formaldehyde, CO2, VOC

    Main culprits: VOC, CO, Radon, Lead, formaldehyde, asbestos, PM10

    Click for full-size image

    Asbestos-asbestosis, mesothelioma

    Radon 222-lung cancer (smoke demo-lungs)


    • Air Quality: Air quality can be assessed using various


    • Particulates: Sticky paper can be used to collect

    air particulates from various sources, and then the

    paper can be examined under a microscope. It is

    not possible to see the smallest particulates, but

    they do color the white paper.

    • Ozone: In this lab, an ecobadge or a homemade

    potassium iodide gel sampler is hung or worn in

    order to collect data on tropospheric ozone. The

    badge or KI sample changes color in the presence

    of ozone and becomes more intensely colored as

    the amount of ozone increases.

    • Carbon dioxide: In this lab, a commercial sampling

    device is used to determine the amount of

    carbon dioxide in an air sample. Car exhaust,

    burning tobacco, or other pollutants can also be


    Pollution roundup:

    Chapter 8 of Princeton Review for AP:





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You should be able to do the following after logging in with your account: To create a new page, click the ...Falseadmin2020-08-19T15:43:59+00:00adminadmin2013-02-05 02:24:03+00:002013-02-05 02:24:03updated4Added tag - hotadminadmin2013-02-05 02:24:02+00:002013-02-05 02:24:02addTag3adminadmin2013-02-05 02:05:35+00:002013-02-05 02:05:35updated2First createdadminadmin2013-02-05 02:03:35+00:002013-02-05 02:03:35created1wiki2013-02-05T02:24:03+00:00groups/apenvironmentalscience/wiki/394a8FalseEnergy notes/groups/apenvironmentalscience/wiki/394a8/Energy_notes.htmladmin4 updatesEnergy notes Week of 2.4.13: energy wrap-up e2 video: coal vs. nuclear in class AP exams: FRQ 2002.1 2004.2 2006.1 2007.2 2008.1 ...Falseadmin2013-02-05T02:24:03+00:00adminadmin2013-02-05 02:23:20+00:002013-02-05 02:23:20updated6Added tag - hotadminadmin2013-02-05 02:23:18+00:002013-02-05 02:23:18addTag5adminadmin2013-02-05 02:23:12+00:002013-02-05 02:23:12updated4adminadmin2013-02-05 02:21:48+00:002013-02-05 02:21:48updated3adminadmin2013-02-05 02:20:26+00:002013-02-05 02:20:26updated2First createdadminadmin2013-02-05 02:06:00+00:002013-02-05 02:06:00created1wiki2013-02-05T02:23:20+00:00groups/apenvironmentalscience/wiki/c360bFalseFeb-May plan/groups/apenvironmentalscience/wiki/c360b/FebMay_plan.htmladmin6 updatesFeb-May plan 1. conclusion of energy chapters (see previous wiki) 2. GCC AP questions FRQ: 2006.2 2005.3 2005.4 2007.3 ...Falseadmin2013-02-05T02:23:20+00:00adminadmin2012-03-07 05:53:55+00:002012-03-07 05:53:55updated14adminadmin2012-03-07 05:43:38+00:002012-03-07 05:43:38updated13adminadmin2012-03-07 05:41:35+00:002012-03-07 05:41:35updated12adminadmin2012-03-07 05:38:57+00:002012-03-07 05:38:57updated11Added tag - hotadminadmin2012-03-07 05:38:55+00:002012-03-07 05:38:55addTag10adminadmin2012-03-07 05:36:47+00:002012-03-07 05:36:47updated9adminadmin2012-03-07 05:22:26+00:002012-03-07 05:22:26updated8adminadmin2012-03-07 05:20:01+00:002012-03-07 05:20:01updated7adminadmin2012-03-07 05:18:58+00:002012-03-07 05:18:58updated6adminadmin2012-03-07 04:58:55+00:002012-03-07 04:58:55updated5adminadmin2012-03-07 04:57:33+00:002012-03-07 04:57:33updated4adminadmin2012-03-07 04:56:53+00:002012-03-07 04:56:53updated3adminadmin2012-03-07 04:54:20+00:002012-03-07 04:54:20updated2First createdadminadmin2012-03-07 04:53:33+00:002012-03-07 04:53:33created1weblog2012-03-07T05:53:55+00:00groups/apenvironmentalscience/weblog/de030FalseGreen Apple/groups/apenvironmentalscience/weblog/de030/Green_Apple.htmladmin14 updatesGreen Apple Team, Please watch this video about NYC: Trailer: http://www.pbs.org/e2/episodes/101_the_green_apple_trailer.html On the server: http://physics.hpa...Falseadmin2012-03-07T05:53:55+00:00adminadmin2011-09-13 19:08:24+00:002011-09-13 19:08:24updated4Added tag - hotadminadmin2011-09-13 19:08:22+00:002011-09-13 19:08:22addTag3adminadmin2011-09-13 19:08:10+00:002011-09-13 19:08:10updated2First createdadminadmin2011-09-13 19:04:30+00:002011-09-13 19:04:30created1weblog2011-09-13T19:08:24+00:00groups/apenvironmentalscience/weblog/4ecddFalseQuestions for Wednesday, wiki adds/groups/apenvironmentalscience/weblog/4ecdd/Questions_for_Wednesday_wiki_adds.htmladmin4 updatesQuestions for Wednesday, wiki adds Team, I'd like to try something for class tomorrow: each of you to create a question from chapter 3, and email it to me by this evening (Tuesday). 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