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6: Air Pollution

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    • 6.1: Composition and Structure of the Atmosphere
      Atmosphere refers to the layer of gases that surrounds Earth and is held in place by Earth’s gravitational attraction (gravity). The mix of gases in the atmosphere forms a complex system organized into layers that together support life on Earth.
    • 6.2: Ozone
      Ozone (O3) is a molecule in which three atoms of oxygen are bonded together. Once produced, ozone can absorb UV radiation breaking the molecule to regenerate an oxygen molecule and a single oxygen atom. So, while ozone is continually being replenished, it is also continually being destroyed. If the rate of ozone creation is equal to the rate of destruction, the total amount will remain the same.
    • 6.3: Outdoor Air Pollution
      Air pollution refers to the introduction, into the atmosphere, of substances that have harmful effects on humans, other living organisms, and the environment either as solid particles, liquid droplets or gases. Air pollution can result from natural processes such as dust storms, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions, or from human activities such as biomass burning, vehicular emissions, mining, agriculture, and industrial processes.
    • 6.4: Indoor Air Pollution
      In both developed and developing nations, indoor air pollution poses a greater health risk than outdoor air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air generally contains higher concentrations of toxic pollutants than outdoor air.
    • 6.5: Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
      The World Health Organization (WHO) and other international agencies recognize air pollution as a major threat to human health. Numerous scientific studies have linked air pollution to a variety of health problems
    • 6.6: Acid Rain
      Pure rainfall is slightly acidic, pH 5.6, because water reacts with atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce weak carbonic acid. When higher than normal amounts of nitric and sulfuric acid occur in the atmosphere, the result is precipitation with a pH below 5.6 which is referred to as acid rain. Acid rain includes both wet deposition (rainfall, snow, fog) and dry deposition (particulates). Acid rain formation results from both natural sources and man-made sources,
    • 6.7: Air Pollution Legislation
      But there was no comprehensive federal response to address air pollution until Congress passed a much stronger Clean Air Act in 1970. That same year Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gave it the primary role in carrying out the law. Since 1970, EPA has been responsible for a variety of Clean Air Act programs to reduce air pollution nationwide.
    • 6.8: Appendix

    Thumbnail: Industrial pollution (Unsplash License; Chris LeBoutillier via Unsplash)

    This page titled 6: Air Pollution is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Caralyn Zehnder, Kalina Manoylov, Samuel Mutiti, Christine Mutiti, Allison VandeVoort, & Donna Bennett (GALILEO Open Learning Materials) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.