Cutting down on air pollution is an important step in going green. While transportation is the most obvious generator of air pollution, other aspects of your lifestyle also affect the amount of emissions you create -- everything from the products you buy, your behaviors at home and the way you handle household waste. A number of small changes in different areas of your life can make a difference. The big results ...
Light pollution is any artificial light that is intrusive, unsafe or wasteful (see References 1). City dwellers can attest to the disorientation caused by light clutter, or groupings of bright lights. Nighttime drivers are all too familiar with glare, the unsafe side effect of excessively bright or unshielded lights. Misdirected light from a neighbor's property that infiltrates your yard or home makes you the victim ...
People tend to think of industrial smokestacks associated with chemical manufacturing and power plants when it comes to pollution, but household pollutants also contaminate and persist in the environment. Of particular concern is the release of volatile organic compounds, gases that can hurt the environment and human health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least a dozen organic pollutants occur ...
The water beneath our soil is a valuable resource. Groundwater makes up about 98 percent of the usable fresh water on Earth (see References 6). Understanding how we pollute groundwater will help us protect it from contamination and ensure that it will remain available to future generations.
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Indoor air pollutants include things like smoke from wood stoves and cigarettes, but some pollutants, like radon or carbon monoxide, are odorless, tasteless and unseen with the naked eye. You may assume that the quality of the air in your home is safe, when in reality it poses health threats to your family, such as increased risk of pneumonia or aggravated asthma symptoms, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Long-term effects of indoor air pollution include heart disease, respiratory diseases or cancer. (See References 1)
Pollution is the introduction of harmful contaminants into air, water or soil. These contaminants can have dire effects on entire ecosystems, making life more difficult for humans, plants and animals. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the health effects from these toxins. In many cases, exposure to pollution has a cumulative effect on the body (see References 1).
The concept of pollution prevention centers around the idea of eliminating the creation of pollutants. In some cases that means not creating waste; another perspective is to limit energy consumption, thus reducing the amount of pollution caused in the creation of most common forms of energy. Although industry, commerce and institutions create the majority of pollutants, individuals can address pollution prevention and improve environmental health on a personal-sized scale. (See References 1, 2)
Water and soil pollution are two of the five basic categories of environmental pollution. The other three are air, noise and light. Pollution occurs when a material is added to a body of water or an area of land that adversely affects it. Once pollution exists, returning the water and soil to its previously unpolluted state often proves difficult.
Oil spills from tankers account for only 7.7 percent of oil that ends up in the ocean, but the oil itself and the cleanup efforts designed to eliminate it can be devastating to the environment (see References 1). Oil damages wildlife through smothering, as well as by absorption, inhalation and ingestion (see References 2).
While pollution is often associated with the outdoors, indoor pollution can be more insidious. Some indoor pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, are undetectable. Other pollutants, such as mold, may seem innocuous. Cleaners give the impression of being beneficial, but can be polluting to the home, causing irritation to residents. (See References 1)
The night sky in the country looks remarkably different than the sky view near a city. More stars are visible and brighter, and in some remote areas, the Milky Way galaxy extends across the sky from east to west. In contrast, lights in the city illuminate night skies, hiding many of the stars. Outdoor lighting that interferes with the natural landscape is called light pollution. As urban areas grow, so does this type of pollution. Learn about the impact of light pollution and follow through with ways to reduce excess lighting in your neighborhood.
Every summer, polluted water pours down the Mississippi River, poisoning the water in the Gulf of Mexico and causing an 8,000-square-mile dead zone --- an area roughly the size of New Jersey --- in which aquatic life cannot survive (see References 1). While a dramatic example, water pollution regularly affects the health of wildlife, ecosystems and perhaps your family.
Supporting sustainable fisheries is something that you as a consumer can do when visiting the market. Each fish has its own issues. Some are farmed, others wild-caught, and the methods of fishing vary. The best way to eat seafood responsibly is to arm yourself with knowledge, stay informed on the issues and throw your support toward fisheries that operate responsibly.
The dingy urban haze that hangs over many American cities isn't just bad for human health. It has detrimental effects on crops, too. The extent of damage depends on the type of pollutant, the species of plant, and other environmental factors like moisture levels and temperature (see References 1, 2 and 3). Air pollutants cause losses in crops, trees, ornamentals and turfgrass in excess of $1 billion per year, according to the Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities Extension (see References 2).
Air pollution is related to human illnesses like neurological, respiratory and reproductive disorders. It can harm wildlife health and the environment. Although some occurs naturally, most pollutants enter the air through human activities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helps regulate many air pollutants, including six criteria pollutants. Criteria pollutants are so-named because regulations for their control are made with scientific human health and environmental welfare criteria as a guide. (See References 1 and 2)
Acid rain describes sulfuric and nitric acids deposited from the atmosphere. Often associated with precipitation, the term also applies to dry acidic materials. These acids commonly result from sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides reacting with moisture and other substances in the atmosphere. Although there are natural sources for these chemicals, much attention has been given to man-made sources, such as coal power plants. Acid rain is problematic due to acidification of soil, rivers, and lakes beyond the tolerance range of plants and animals. Acid rain can also erode man-made structures. (See References 1)
A recharge zone is the surface area surrounding an aquifer from which water in the form of precipitation or surface waters replenishes the groundwater stored in the aquifer. About 30 percent of the Earth's freshwater is from groundwater (see Reference 1). Groundwater is an important source of drinking water for both public and private U.S. water systems. Pollutants enter aquifers through the recharge zone. Subsurface pollutants associated with recharge zones include nitrates from fertilizers, petroleum products, pesticides, certain industrial by-products and heavy metals.
More than 700 of Wisconsin’s lakes, streams and rivers are polluted to a greater or lesser extent, leading to damaged ecosystems, fish kills and cases of people falling ill every year (see Reference 1). One of the main causes of the fish kills is not a surge of toxic chemicals — although dangerously high levels of toxins such as mercury are found in some of Wisconsin’s water bodies — it is nutrient pollution. Beneficial as nutrients might be in the right place, in the wrong place and at high levels, they can be deadly.
Nonpoint source pollutants harm aquatic life, degrade water supplies and limit recreational and fishing opportunities. Impacts to Pennsylvania's waterways from nonpoint source pollutants, or polluted runoff, have resulted in impairments in approximately 16,973 stream miles and 38,357 lake acres assessed within the state (see Reference 1). Although many pollutants common across the nation are also a problem in Pennsylvania, the most prevalent pollutants in this region result from agriculture, abandoned mine drainage and urban runoff (see Reference 2).
No matter who you are or where you live, access to sources of clean drinking water is essential for life. Drinkable water comes from many sources, from underground wells to storms that cross the country. Understanding more about where drinking water comes from can help you find water during an emergency or simply appreciate the journey that water takes to reach your faucet.
“Road salt” is a generic term for deicing agents that contain sodium chloride and other chloride salts. These salts lower the freezing temperature of water, which helps to keep roads free from ice and snow. While there's no question that deicing pavements is necessary to prevent accidents and save lives, the massive volume of sodium chloride applied annually to U.S. roads poses a serious threat to soil, vegetation, water bodies and the many species that rely on them. For this reason, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends minimizing the application of road salts containing sodium chloride and using alternative deicers where possible.
Over time, the oil that lubricates motors -- whether in cars, boats, lawnmowers or farm equipment -- picks up impurities. These impurities limit the lubricating properties of synthetic and petroleum-based oils, and ultimately, they must be replaced with new motor oil. (See Reference 1) Any time used motor oil escapes from an engine crankcase, it has the potential to pollute the environment.
More likely than not, getting a vehicle from point "A" to point "B" involves combustion of a fossil fuel, a process that emits gasses and affects the environment. In December 1970, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported over 89.9 billion vehicle miles traveled, or VMT. (See Reference 4) That number nearly tripled to over 246.3 trillion VMT in December 2011. (See Reference 3) Such a sharp incline in traffic volume begs the question: how does car pollution affect the environment and the ozone layer? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than half of the air pollution in the nation is caused by mobile sources, primarily automobiles. (See Reference 6) Further contributing to the pollution potential of cars is the fact that they are filled with numerous fluids, which can harm the environment in the cases of leakage or improper disposal.
Economic growth in countries is often a result as local technologies and resources increase their independence in supplying the energy needs of citizens. Investment in the renewable energy industry is an integral part of President Obama's 2009 Recovery Act, which aims at recuperating the economy and directing the future growth of the United States. (See Reference 1) The international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development explains that sustainability within a country's energy sector increases efficiency and security, encouraging prosperity and growth through energy access, industry development, job creation and competitive technological innovation. (See Reference 2)
Flow alteration can result from both natural and man-made causes. To understand its effects, you need to consider the entire equation, beginning with its cause. From there, you can determine whether the impact is negative and if water quality has consequently suffered. Flow alteration can occur from something as simple as a tree blocking water to the installation of a dam. Pollution is defined as the introduction of harmful substances into the ecosystem; in some cases, flow alteration fits this definition.
Vegetable oil biofuel is a renewable source of energy that is a practical alternative to the petroleum-based materials used in powering your car and heating your home (See References 9 and 10). The typical biofuel in use today is a blend of refined soybean oil, refined corn oil and recycled cooking oils that are mixed with lesser quantities of other agriculturally sourced materials (See Reference 1). While biofuels are less hazardous than petrochemical fuels, any material that's volatile enough to power an engine or fire up a furnace will be harmful to plants and wildlife if spilled into rivers or streams (See Reference 2).
A passenger car driving an average of 12,500 miles per year emits more than 12,000 pounds of pollutants and greenhouse gases annually, making driving a personal vehicle one of the greatest sources of pollution from individuals, according to United States Environmental Protection Service statistics. (See Reference 1.) Walking or biking is the ideal way to reduce pollution from transportation, but many communities don't have convenient or safe bike and pedestrian paths. Instead of giving up the family sedan, consider making adjustments to how you drive and how you care for your car to reduce its pollution.
We never run out of renewable power sources because they come from places such as the sun, wind, water and from underground. Whatever we harness for energy is automatically replenished, unlike the fossil fuels that harm our environment. The drawbacks are that renewables are not equally cost-effective, and some are not available in all areas of the United States. Some require substantial investment for installation. Fortunately, there are a number of government initiatives available to help people with the expense of converting to green energy (See References 1).
New York City is grappling to find solutions for its pollution problems. According to the American Lung Association, stricter soot controls could potentially save more than 3,000 lives every year in the greater New York metropolitan area (See References 5). Pollution in New York City stems from sewer overflows, runoff, land pollution from plastic bottles and garbage and air pollution. In recent years, the city has developed innovative solutions to some of these problems, such as using hybrid buses and city vehicles to reduce emissions. Still, the larger issues remain.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world, touching a number of continents including North and South America, Australia, Antarctica and Asia. While beachgoers may enjoy the pacific coastlines in cities such as San Diego and Malibu, California, the large expanse of the Pacific Ocean can be home to large amounts of pollution. Knowing the facts about pollution in the Pacific Ocean can help you do your part to keep it clean.
For centuries, American coal miners used caged canaries and even mice as a natural carbon monoxide and methane detection system. If their feathered and whiskered companions became notably distressed or ended up perishing, a human hazard was clearly present, prompting immediate evacuation. Unfortunately, today’s household pets share a lot in common with coal mine canaries. Spending the majority of their lives indoors, pets can be exposed to more pollutants in a suburban home than if they lived outdoors full-time in a large city. (See Reference 7)
An insecticide is a pesticide that targets insects. Humans have relied on insecticides to increase food production, prevent diseases such as malaria and protect their homes from pests such as termites for decades. But pesticides also have drawbacks, including documented risks to human health and wildlife populations. (See References 3) Widespread insecticide use -- the United States used 93 million pounds of insecticide products in 2007 (see References 2, page 8) -- has caused water pollution in many agricultural, urban and mixed-land-use areas. More than 90 percent of surface waterways tested by the U.S. Geological Survey between 1992 and 2001 contained at least one pesticide or pesticide byproduct (see References 1, page 42).
In the United States, transportation accounts for one-third of energy-related emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Between 1990 and 2007, these emissions increased by 29 percent (see References 1). This pollution takes a serious toll on the environment, resulting in dramatic environmental changes that affect the weather.
Being respectful of environments and communities goes hand in hand, as environmental problems impact people on a broad scale. Climate change, which is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, affects communities worldwide in diverse and often unpredictable ways. Some communities experience increased flooding while others experience increased drought and rapid ecosystem changes (see References 3 and 4). The success of human attempts to adapt to these changing conditions have not been well documented, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see References 4). This emphasizes the importance of preventing environmental changes before they occur or, as in the case of climate change, slowing their progress once they've begun (see References 3).
Renewable resources beat nonrenewable alternatives coming and going -- literally. The process of creating energy from nonrenewable resources generates greenhouse gases, pollutants and toxic chemicals, whereas renewable energy is produced from clean sources such as sunlight and wind. Throughout their working lifetime, renewable energy producing systems have a miniscule carbon footprint and emit no hazardous chemicals. By contrast, the extraction and processing of nonrenewable resources creates a great deal of pollution -- the air pollution exacerbated by these practices, for example, contributes to a variety of respiratory disorders (Reference 7).
Bike riding has always been a more cost-effective mode of transportation when compared to personal motor vehicles and public transportation. A bike is free to operate and maintenance is inexpensive. The riding is also a healthy option, as the bikes are fueled solely by the power of your own muscles. Bike riding also benefits the environment in significant ways (References 1).
Fossil fuel combustion is the primary source of carbon dioxide, far outpacing other sources, including manufacturing and nonenergy use of fuels. Petroleum, natural gas and coal represent the main types of fossil fuels used by humans. Of the three, petroleum use ranks highest, explains the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both coal and gasoline produce greenhouse gas emissions that have been linked to climate change. However, fossil fuel combustion also carries other environmental risks. (See References 1)
Although you can't single-handedly clean up the environment, you can make choices in your everyday life that will benefit the health of the planet and your community. Simple changes, such as finding green alternatives for the everyday products you consume, can have a beneficial impact on water quality, energy use and the amount of pollution and waste you generate.
Like most states, much of Kentucky's pollution comes from familiar sources such as industrial activity and transportation. However, some regional pollution sources, such as mining, cause particular environmental concern. Debates persist about alleged economic advantages of lower regulations versus health and environmental benefits of increased protections. Kentucky's Energy and Environment Cabinet aims to reconcile these areas of concern by facilitating dialogue between a range of state agencies, including the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (see Resources 2).