Environmental Science 1021F/G Lecture Notes - Smog, Volatile Organic Compound, Cool Air

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Air Lecture Notes
Troposphere
Air we breathe
Note level of CO2 (0.038%) is small but not insignificant. This low amount is required to keep
balance in Earth's climate & health of
Greenhouse gases - required to maintain health of Earth, but can be harmful if in abundance
VOCs = volatile organic compounds
o Synthetic harmful chemicals in everyday products (paint, carpet, upholstery, cosmetics)
NO(x) - nitrous oxide
Outdoor Air Pollution
Air pollutant = chemical that at high concentration causes damage
Air pollutants: Small particulate matter, SO2, ozone, lead
Natural sources of pollutants: fire, dust, salty sea spray (vaporized salt can be a pollutant)
o Although they're natural, they can still harm
Mobile sources: shipping vessel, plane, train, car, anything that pollutes and moves around
Stationary sources: factories,
Primary pollutants: chemicals that come directly from source of pollutants (factory vent, exhaust
pipe, volcano)
Secondary pollutant: chemicals formed from chemical rxns among primary pollutants
Why should CO2 be considered an air pollutant?
o It's at unnaturally high concentrations
o It's causing problems
Results of climate change resulting from chemical pollutants:
Change in precipitation patterns
o Where/when it falls
Change in ability to grow in fertile soils that get more or less rain than previously
Rising sea levels
o Water melting from glaciers, snow caps
Photochemical smog
Combination of air pollutants, NOx, heat, and sunlight
Creates bad ozone
Erodes solid structures, irritates eyes & breathing (esp. felt by asthmatics)
Increased by global warming
Plants that produce VOCs: sycamore, poplar, oak, and Kudzu vine (invasive species in SW ON)
Industrial Smog
Sulphur dioxide (SO2), drops of slupheric acid, and suspended particles
o No NOx
Caused by burnin coal & oil
Gray in colour
Reducing Smog:
Reducing activities that create smog
Precipitation
Organic in chemical sense =
chemical compounds contain
hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon
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o Then pollutants go into water system
Wind
o Disperses pollutants so they can't react w/ each other
o Doesn't get rid of problem, but dilutes it
o Therefore tall buildings, hills, and mountains block wind and prevent pollutants from
dispersing (valleys naturally have more smog)
Increasing Smog
Grasshopper effect
o Taller smokestacks are built intended to prevent pollutants from falling on city - prevents
smog in that area
o Pollutants just gather elsewhere, this doesn't fix the problem
Cities hold in heat (heat islands)
Air Pollution from Acid Deposition
Acid deposition
o wet: precipitation contaminated w/ sulphuric acid
Usually falls away from source, because it needs to gather in clouds, combine w/
water
Can cause leaching by breaking down toxic metals (eg. Lead) and carrying that to
water source
o dry: compounds that fall to ground near source
Fish particularly sensitive to acid
o Changes chemistry in body of water, makes water more acidic
o Fish suffocate
o Particularly issue in spring when acid snow melts and goes directly to bodies of water where
fish live
Plants can't survive acidic soils
o Decreases immune function
o Nutrients leach, calcium deficiency
o Burns the plants
o Less able to photosynthesize - become yellow because less chlorophyll
Acid-loving plants thrive, changing plant community
Reduce soil buffering capacity - soils less able to withstand harm from pH fluctuations - will
become acidic
Solutions to Acid Deposition
Neutralizing chemicals added to water & soil
Lecture Part 2
Terminology:
Global warming = average temperature increase on land, water, air
Global climate change = changes in aspects of Earth's climate
Warmer or cooler
More/less precipitation
Wind force & direction
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