AIR POLLUTION

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WAF FACT SHEETS
Pollution
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AIR POLLUTION
Air pollution is anything that contaminates our air or affects its composition.
Polluted air can contain dust and chemicals, such as smoke from chimneys,
carbon monoxide, and nitrogen monoxide. Even carbon dioxide, naturally
produced through respiration, is considered a pollutant when found in excess
amounts. When the air is not clean, the entire environment is affected because
both plants and animals depend on air to breathe. Breathing unclean air causes
health problems, even in humans. Over long periods of time, air pollution may
damage the ozone layer and affect global climate through the greenhouse effect. It is important for us to realize that
pollution is not isolated. Toxins from the United States can travel by air currents across the oceans and harm our friends
overseas, and we all share a common atmosphere. The solutions that we decide upon must be implemented on an
international scale. It is not enough to prevent pollution at home; we must prevent pollution globally.
Causes
Air pollution can be created through many ways. Combustion, the burning of fuel, and respiration, a similar process in
animals, produces carbon dioxide and water when burned completely and cleanly. Too much carbon dioxide may
contribute to the "greenhouse effect." Unfortunately, that is not the only consequence of combustion. Fuel is usually not
burned cleanly or completely because it may contain impurities, other chemicals which produce dangerous pollutants, and
may not be burned efficiently. Fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas, contain such impurities. Pollution such as carbon
monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrocarbons are produced by polluters such
as vehicles, especially in heavy city traffic, and factories. The result is smog and other atmospheric pollution. Sulfur
dioxide leads to acid rain, which can spread to the water as well.
Effects
Air pollution can make eyes burn and cause headaches. It can make it difficult to breathe and increases the risk of lung
cancer. Carbon monoxide is a toxin; it is poisonous when inhaled. Chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer, which
absorbs UV radiation. This may weaken immune systems and increase the chances of skin cancer and eye diseases. The
United States EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, banned CFC's in aerosol sprays in 1978. Smog was a mix of
smoke and fog. Now, it also includes pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Smog aggravates
respiratory ailments. The primary cause of the destruction of the ozone layer is thought to be chlorofluorocarbons, found
in refridgeration systems, fire extinguishers, and propellants in aerosol cans. Depletion of the ozone layer increases the
area of surfaces reached by UV radiation. The National Academy of Sciences indicates that a 1 percent reduction in
ozone levels would raise 10,000 more cases of skin cancer in the United States alone. A treaty drafted in Montreal,
Canada, in 1987 by 42 nations would freeze CFC production at 1986 levels by the end of 1989.
The "Greenhouse Effect"
Carbon dioxide forms a "blanket" around the earth, trapping solar radiation and reflecting it back to Earth. This may be
enough to raise the earth's temperature 2 to 6 degrees Celsius or 2.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
OCEAN POLLUTION
Ocean Pollution is a problem that directly affects ocean organisms and the natural balance. It indirectly affects human

health and resources. Oil spills, toxic wastes and the dumping of other materials all contribute to the broad term 'Ocean
Pollution'. Because oceans cover over 70% of the surface of the earth, water sources are the perfect carriers of pollution.
Thus allowing for pollution to spread rapidly and to go all over the world via inter-connected seas.
Oil Pollution: Oil pollution is one of the highest publicized forms of Ocean Pollution. The majority of oil pollution is
from spills or leakages of oil that originate from land or rivers, which in turn flow to the sea. The more direct form of oil
pollution occurs when ships transporting the substance leak or crash. Some of the oil washes up on the shore and
becomes tar-like lumps; some coat the fur of animals (e.g. sea otters) affecting their natural heating system. Also, some
oil finds its way to other water sources (such as lakes, rivers, and personal water supplies) causing hazardous water to be
consumed. In extreme cases, rivers, lakes and wells have been known to ignite. For example, in 1969, the Cuyahoga
River in Cleveland, Ohio ignited.
-TANKER ACCIDENTS: Ship crashes and/or leakages.
-ROUTINE MAINTENANCE: Ship maintenance (discharge).
-RUNOFF: Runoff from land, municipal, and industrial wastes.
-AIR POLLUTION: Air pollution (mainly from cars and industries). The particles (hydrocarbons) settle or are washed
down by rain from the air to the ocean.
-OFFSHORE DRILLING: Spills and operational discharge from land drilling leak and flow to the sea.
-NATURAL CAUSES: There are many forms of natural 'Oil Pollution', once such for is when eroding rocks release oil
into the sea.
Toxic Wastes: Toxic waste is the most harmful form of pollution to marine creatures and humans alike. Once a form of
toxic waste affects an organism, it (the toxic waste) can be quickly passed along the food chain and might eventually end
up as seafood, causing various problems. Toxic wastes arrive from the leakage of landfills, dumps, mines and farms.
Sewage and industrial wastes introduce chemical pollutants such as PCB, DDT, and Sevin. Farm chemicals (insecticides
and herbicides) along with heavy metals (e.g., mercury and zinc) can have a disasterous affect on marine life and humans
alike. Radioactive wastes, reactor leaks, natural radioactivity, and radioactive particles which originate from the
Atmospheric Testing Program from explosions of nuclear weapons are dispersed in water all over the world. The effect
of these radioactive particles is currently being researched. All of these factors allow seafood to have a chance of being
hazardous to human health. For example, if a fish is contaminated with the metal Mercury (by either eating it or
consuming a creature who had), birth defects and nervous system damage in humans may result. Also, Dioxin causes
genetic and chromosomal mutations in marine life and is suspected of causing cancer in humans. Medical wastes, such as
stale blood vials, hypodermic needles, and urine samples that have been found in oceans around the U.S. are being
researched to determine if swimmers have a chance of contracting Hepatitis or AIDs from such wastes. Other wastes have
been known to cause viral and bacterial diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea.
Ocean Dumping: The lawful ocean dumping of various pollutants was once common practice, but is now regulated.
However, the wastes that were dumped into the ocean in the early 1900's remain there still. Human wastes, ground-up
garbage, water from bathing, and plastics all contribute to ocean dumping. Examples of trash found in the ocean are:
syringes, labratory rats, human stomach lining, Navy decontamination kits, test tubes with various substances (with
radioactive markings), tampon applicators, and a wallet-sized photo of a dead communist dictator. One of the main
causes of trash finding its way to the ocean is the fact that some sewage pipes share their space with storm water drains.
Rainfall (at least 1/4 of an inch), causes the sewage pipes to flood and the sewage wastes (basically anything you flush
down your toilet), mingles with the storm water drain which flows unhindered to a water source. Balloons have been
known to find their way into animals such as sperm whales, blocking their digestive tracts; causing the animals to die.
Plastic six-pack rings choke various animals and other waste is mistaken by animals for food. Basically any unnatural
trash can be harmful to ocean life.
Learn more online at WorldAnimalFoundation.com

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