According to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, there are six principal air pollutants, the excess of which critically affects the health, lifestyle, and welfare of the population. They are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particle pollution, and sulfur dioxide. Increasing the level of each of them will most likely have critical consequences, and should be regulated by governmental services. Still, to my mind, the priority should be given to the regulation of particle pollution as the most dangerous issue.
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Particle pollution or “Particulate matter,” PM, is an effect caused by contamination of air by the particles of different origin. They might be dust, small droplets of nitric and sulfuric acids, coal and metal particles, organic chemicals, etc. The particles are subdivided into two groups. The size of “inhalable coarse particles” lies within the range of 2.5 and 10 micrometers (“The United States Environmental Protection Agency: Particulate Matter” par. 3). “Fine particles” are 2.5 micrometers and smaller (“The United States Environmental Protection Agency: Particulate Matter” par. 4). The particles are majorly concentrated along the roadways and in the areas of dusty industries. Forest fires, being a significant issue recently all over the U.S., are a substantial source of PM (Langmann et al. 109). Gas emissions from cars, industries, and power plants also contribute to particle pollution.
The level of particle pollution is regulated both by primary and secondary standards, meaning that high levels of PM will affect both sensitive categories of people and the welfare such as animals, crops, and buildings. The health dangers lay within lungs and heart disease that might cause death, as well as asthma, heart attacks, respiratory symptoms, etc. In general, 500,000 deaths occur due to particle pollution annually (Nel, 804). The damage to welfare and environment can be described as contamination of water bodies with acids, affecting the nutrient balance of soils and coastal waters, destroying forests and crops. Acid rains “resulted by sulfur oxides transformation into acids, especially sulfuric acid, besides causing leaf burns, contribute to the acidity increase of naturally acid soils and to lowering the buffering capacity of base saturated top soils” (Lacatusu, Cimpeanu and Lungu 818) are also the result of particle pollution. PM can also cause discomfort and danger, conducting a reduction of visibility.
The factor that demonstrates the extreme danger and the priority of dealing with an issue of particle pollutions is that its standard was reviewed in 2012 the latest date if compare to revisions of other major pollutants (“The United States Environmental Protection Agency: National Ambient Air Quality Standards” par.3). The general recommendations to reduce particle pollution on the household level include not to burn leaves, use the energy sources thoughtfully, avoid using fireplaces and dust-producing devices. These measures are high, but some more effective means should be provided on the state level. They might be introducing the policy of power plants emission reduction by providing more environmental-friendly technologies. This also refers to encouraging using a vehicle with low rates of dangerous emissions. The practice of short-term air pollution forecasts and the regulation of the industrial and household emissions in the area, based on those forecasts (Berlyand 12), seems to be a good idea. The policy of forest fires prevention also should be improved.
Particle pollution is one of the major issues affecting the environment all over the United States. As is, it occurs due to industrial problems and natural catastrophes and might result in drastic consequences for the population’s health and welfare; the environmental policy should be reviewed to reduce the rates of pollution.
Berlyand, M. E. Prediction and regulation of air pollution. Vol. 14. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012. Print.
Lacatusu, Radu, Carmen Cimpeanu, Mihaela Lungu. “Soil pollution by acid rains and heavy metals in Zlatna region, Romania.” Sustaining the Global Farm, Purdue University (2001): 817-820. Print.
Langmann, Bärbel, Bryan Duncan, Christiane Textor, Jörg Trentmann, Guido R. vander Werf. “Vegetation fire emissions and their impact on air pollution and climate.” Atmospheric Environment 43.1 (2009): 107-116. Print.
Nel, André. “Air pollution-related illness: effects of particles.” Science 308.5723 (2005): 804-806. Print.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency: National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) 2015. Web.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency: Particulate Matter (PM) 2015. Web.