Air Quality Management
Wastewater emits harmful toxins that affect air quality. Some researchers say the accumulation and intensity of microbiological emissions account for the highest concentrations of air quality pollutants from wastewater (Filipkowska 275).
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Several researchers have made many attempts to improve air quality, mainly through the adoption of new technology. Nanotechnology is one such technology.
Many studies have explored the potential of nanotechnology to provide new solutions for improving not only the quality of the air we breathe, but also the quality of the water we drink (US Environmental Protection Agency 1).
Moreover, some studies propose nanotechnology as a reliable method for the improvement of traditional technologies for air quality management. The potential of nanotechnology to improve the quality of air and water stems from its unique characteristics that help to reduce air pollution.
Certainly, some studies propose the viability of nanotechnology to reduce harmful emissions from wastewater (US Environmental Protection Agency 1).
Theodore (110) says that nanotechnology improves air quality in two ways. The first way involves the use of catalysts, while the second way involves the use of nano-structured membranes that alter the chemical composition of harmful wastewater pollutants (into less harmful components).
The catalytic approach may also produce a chemical reaction that changes harmful molecules into harmless compositions that do not have any serious effect on air quality. Therefore, harmful vapour/gases that come from wastewater do not compromise air quality. These mechanisms show the potential of nanotechnology to improve air quality management.
Source and Typical Concentrations of Pollutants
Microbiological pollution is the main type of air pollution that occurs in wastewater treatment processes. Therefore, the intensity and range of microbiological emissions detail the main source of air quality degradation. For example, Eastern Research Group (5) says wastewaters emit aerosols, which contain harmful elements that compromise air quality.
Therefore, organic-containing wastewater normally encounters the atmosphere and compromise air quality. Furthermore, Eastern Research Group (5) explains that whenever the organic-containing wastewater meets the atmosphere, the probability for volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions to occur is high.
The wastewater emanating from industrial processes (and domestic consumption) collects in on-site wastewater treatment facilities that are exposed to the atmosphere. The exposure to the atmosphere gives way for the volatility of harmful air pollutants to the environment.
The volatility of wastewater compounds normally occurs because harmful emissions escape into the atmosphere as a way to strike equilibrium above wastewater (Eastern Research Group 5). In so doing, harmful organic chemicals pollute the air.
This pollution normally occurs in wastewater collection and treatment facilities. Nonetheless, the intensity of the pollutants normally varies, depending on many factors such as the physical properties of the pollutants and the concentration of the pollutants.
In this regard, the Eastern Research Group (5) says the temperature of the environment and the physical design of the wastewater treatment facilities have a role to play in the intensity of the pollution
Current Air Regulation and Enforcement
In Canada, the role of overseeing air quality control lies with the provincial governments. However, federal laws also integrate with provincial legislations to provide a comprehensive framework for air quality control laws in the country.
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As will be demonstrated in subsequent sections of this report, the federal government enforces air quality regulation through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (Health Canada 2). The government signed the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a Federal environmental law.
The law stipulates that the protection of the environment is pivotal to the overall well-being of the country. This law helps to maintain high air quality through the adherence to national quality objectives. Through national ambient air quality objectives, it is easy for the government to enforce air regulation laws by assessing air pollutants.
Moreover, through the Canada-wide standards, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, it is similarly easy for the government to enforce the current air regulation standards (Health Canada 2).
Air quality management in Canada is also subject to the Canada-wide Standards that Canadian environmental ministers formulated in 1998 (Health Canada 3). Several jurisdictions within the country signed this act into law, except for Quebec.
The provinces also signed a sub-agreement with Canada-wide standards (regarding this law) because the Canada-wide Standards supported the implementation of existing legislations surrounding environmental management.
The legal framework aimed to provide a realistic outline for the realisation of health and environmental goals in the country. The Canadian government considers the Canada-wide standards for air quality management as realistic objectives in environmental management (Health Canada 2).
Recommendations for Design and Operation
The sophistication of landfill design is a sure way of reducing the extent of air pollution caused by leachate and other pollutants. Rong (18) says that a good design for wastewater treatment depends on the adoption of better technology.
Eastern Research Group (7) says the development of a good landfill design depends on the success of embracing sound economic principles and societal support. Nonetheless, a good design of operation needs to factor all the important areas of treatment, at the beginning of the project, and not after the project has been completed.
Industrial and municipal designs for the control of leachate normally differ. Generally, landfill designs involve careful site preparation, the incorporation of a leachate collection system and a good gas collection system as well.
In city dwellings, landfills normally divide into two groups – waste landfill and sanitary landfill (Rong 18). The sanitary landfill is normally good for urban dwellings because it beautifies the environment, but it does not have any material difference with waste landfill.
Broadly, the right design for leachate and air quality control in wastewater management involves the inclusion of the following sections.
Pre-treatment of Solid waste
The quality and control of solid waste normally lead to the production of air pollutants from wastewater because the higher the volume of solid waste, the higher the concentration of leachate.
Through an analysis of the generation of solid waste, it is crucial to say, “If the masses of solid wastes accumulate in the future, designers should complete planning carefully, so that the background of data is a first factor for the beginning of the landfill design” (Rong 18).
Through this design, it is important to affirm that the chemical composition of leachate connects with the pre-treatment of solid waste to provide a good backdrop for the control of leachate.
If the pre-treatment of solid waste is carefully factored into the design of a wastewater treatment plant, it is easy to see how the chemical composition of solid waste may be reduced before it flows to the landfill.
The landfill cover system forms a critical part of the design of wastewater treatment facilities. The main purpose of including the cover system is to isolate wastewater from the landfill (for the prevention of leachate generation).
Similarly, the cover system aids the growth of plants that may prevent the landfill from environmental destruction in the future. In this regard, “the cover should have lower permeability than the bottom liner to prevent surface water flow into the landfill” (Rong 19).
Three types of covers detail the cover system – daily cover, intermediate cover, and final cover (Rong 18). The daily cover involves the setup of a special layer of soil, over the landfill, usually on a daily basis. Designers use sandy soil for this purpose.
The use of sandy soil is normal, but other materials may also serve the same purpose (wood, clay, sand, and chemical forms are just a few examples of useful alternative materials) (Rong 18).
The cover thickness may be about half of a meter, to make it easier for vehicles to drive over the landfill. Marinating a daily cover system over the landfill is a viable way of ensuring that air pollution does not occur through the dispersion of harmful materials.
An intermediate cover is different from the daily cover because landfill designers normally use it when the landfill is unused. An intermediary cover involves the use of more soil to prevent harmful contaminants from the landfill to infiltrate the atmosphere.
An intermediary landfill may be about 1.2 meters and may equally involve planting vegetation if the landfill is unused for long (Rong 18). Lastly, the final cover may be about two meters thick and may look like thick vegetation. The vegetation prevents the evaporation of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere (Rong 18).
Rong (22) says that the bottom-liner system is the most important part of the landfill design because it provides the most important layer for the prevention of harmful toxins from permeating to the atmosphere.
The bottom-liner system encompasses several layers including the waste material, protective gravel cover, Geo-composite drainage layer, primary leachate collection system, Geo-composite drainage layer, primary Geo-membrane (1.5 mm), Geo-synthetic clay liner, Geo-composite drainage layer, secondary leachate collection system, secondary Geo-membrane (1.5 mm), re-compacted clay (1 meter) and the natural soil and rock (Rong 22).
The success of this landfill design affirms through a laboratory analysis, which occurred in a wastewater treatment facility in Tarastenjärvi, Finland (Rong 22). The main module of conducting the experiment was to understand the quality and characteristics of the leachate after researchers subjected it through the landfill design mentioned above.
In the laboratory test, the researchers analysed the volume of the total suspended solids and the pH of the leachate to understand their potential impact on the atmosphere. They realised that there was a significant reduction in air pollution (Rong 22).
Introduction to Problem Domain
Theodore (110) believes that nanotechnology is a reliable technology for the detection and prevention of air pollution. The application of nanotechnology in air quality management thrives on the premise that nanotechnology degrades wastewater contaminants into less harmful substances that would not compromise the quality of air.
However, its application in the improvement of air quality (through wastewater pollution) is indirect, especially without a methodological approach that would suit the intended purpose of the initiative.
In other words, the success of nanotechnology in air quality management depends on finding a reliable methodological approach for the adoption of nanotechnology in air quality management.
Motivation of Work
The main motivation of work for introducing nanotechnology is to improve air quality management. The adoption of nanotechnology therefore strives to reduce the intensity of pollution that permeates the environment through poor wastewater management.
Objective of Work
As mentioned in earlier sections of this paper, the treatment, prevention, and management of wastewater pollutants depend on the effective adoption of nanotechnology.
The main objective of the implementation process includes the determination of how to apply nano-materials in a sustainable way (for the remediation of contaminants) and how nano-materials may minimise waste through the substitution of toxic materials with less toxic emissions.
The initial implementation process concerns the reduction of key pollutants that are important to the Canadian environmental law. In addition, the main aim of this process involves the determination of the right type of catalysts that have enhanced catalytic properties that may slow or increase a chemical reaction.
Bionics is the preferred implementation methodology for nanotechnology (in the context of this paper). This system thrives on the application of biological methods in engineering systems for optimum efficiency in air quality management (Kipper 141).
The interconnection between life forms of engineering systems provide a desirable balance for bionic technology because evolutionary pressure forms a critical striking balance of living organisms to provide desirable results in nature balance (as demonstrated by flora and sauna) (Kipper 141).
A classic example of this application is the production of non-sticky paint through the affirmation that the lotus flower provides a rough surface. Some researchers have adopted this technology in the production of non-sticky paint (Theodore 111).
Steinfeldt (189) says researchers may use the same model in the improvement of air quality management through the modification of living molecules to reduce the harmful effects of wastewater toxins in the atmosphere.
Helwegen (23) says the use of nanotechnology in the improvement of air quality management is an ongoing process that needs a localised approach to eliminate the negative toxins found in wastewater. The ongoing research process still premises on the adoption of bionics as the main methodological approach.
In detail, Helwegen (23) explains that carrying out a function (found in nature) and modifying its components for reduced environmental harm provides the best approach for the improvement of air quality management.
The adoption of bionics in computer science provides an example of a practical application of this methodology because the adoption of cybernetics (in computer science) provides a simulation of the intrigues witnessed in the analysis of human intelligence (Helwegen (23).
An artificial understanding of this model remodels the same behaviour without considering how it occurs.
As mentioned in this paper, treating nature as a workable solution for air quality management provides a reliable database for the reduction and removal of the failures that exist in air quality management.
Through this understanding, it is important to draw a strong link between the use of the bionic approach and the natural improvement of air quality management using natural means.
Rong (22) says that the construction of wetlands in wastewater areas is one form of naturally purifying the air, even when wastewater contaminants pollute the atmosphere.
Indeed, Rong (22) says that constructed wetlands provide an innovative treatment technology for controlling the spread of leachate because wetlands comprise of water, soil, and plants that may absorb harmful contaminants from the atmosphere.
The main advantage of this approach is the low cost of air quality management and the simple use of technology for achieving desirable results in the process. The main purpose of using this example to explain bionics is to show the advantage of using naturally occurring technologies to improve air quality management.
In fact, Steinfeldt (189) draws a strong link between engineering and the use of naturally occurring technologies by saying that almost all forms of engineering rely on some form of bio-mimicry. Nanotechnology works through this same approach.
Results and Discussion
From rapid urbanisation and the growing population pressure, it is critical to appreciate that wastewater and other pollutants compromise environmental quality. The different research studies analysed in this report show that, air quality management mainly relies on the need to prevent and control the leachate problem.
Indeed, the control and management of leachate is not only an important issue in the control of air quality, but also the sustenance of the wider environmental management practices.
The control of landfill leachate is therefore an important addition to air quality control management because mismanaged leachate leads to compromised air quality control. The studies sampled in this paper show that proper landfill design divides into three important sections – pre-treatment of landfill solids, cover system (daily cover, intermediate cover, and final cover).
The bottom-liner system also forms an important addition to this landfill design. However, since this paper proposes the use of nanotechnology as the main technology for air quality management, it is crucial to say that the leachate treatment method should mainly rely on the biological, physical, and chemical processes.
Furthermore, to save the entire costs that would be associated with air quality management, it would be wise to integrate landfill design with suggested nanotechnology tools for maximum air quality management. Similarly, this integration may reduce the quality of leachate.
This analogy stems from the understanding that the source and typical concentrations of air quality pollutants come from aerosol-emitting wastewater. Often, this form of contamination is microbiological. When the aerosols encounter the atmosphere, contamination occurs.
Since the main form of contamination is microbiological, the adoption of nanotechnology is the best approach for mitigating this contamination because nanotechnology incorporates biological and engineered approaches for air quality management.
Certainly, through this technological framework, the adoption of bionics also surfaces as the appropriate methodological approach to improve air quality because it conceptualises the biological and engineered approaches described above (Kjolberg 269). This is the justification for the use of the above techniques.
The main purpose of this analysis was to analyse the best technologies for improving air quality management. The literature survey above suggests the importance of understanding the landfill design, the management of leachate and the improvement of air quality, through bionics.
Bionics is therefore the main methodological approach for the incorporation of nanotechnology in air quality management. Through the adoption of this methodological approach, it would be easier to meet the threshold for environmental quality management, as outlined in the existing environmental laws.
Notably, the Canadian environmental protection act and the Canada-wide standards may be satisfied through the adoption of the above methodologies because both legislative provisions require the reduction of harmful air pollutants. Nanotechnology (through the bionics approach) helps to achieve this objective.
Eastern Research Group. Preferred and Alternative Methods for Estimating Air Emissions from Wastewater Collection and Treatment, Morrisville, North Carolina: Eastern Research Group. 1997. Print.
Filipkowska, Zofia. “Microbiological Air Pollution in the Surroundings of the Wastewater Treatment Plant with Activated-Sludge Tanks Aerated by Horizontal Rotors.” Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 9.4 (2000): 273-280. Print.
Health Canada 2012. Regulations Related To Health And Air Quality. Web.
Helwegen, Wim. Nanotechnology Commercialization for Managers and Scientists, New York: CRC Press, 2012. Print.
Kipper, Greg. Augmented Reality: An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR, Sydney: Elsevier, 2012. Print.
Kjolberg, Kamilla. Nano Meets Macro: Social Perspectives on Nanoscale Sciences and Technologies, New York: Pan Stanford Publishing, 2010. Print.
Rong, Li. Management of Landfill Leachate, Tampere, Finland: TAMK University, 2009. Print.
Steinfeldt, Michael. Nanotechnologies, Hazards, and Resource Efficiency: A Three- tiered Approach to Assessing the Implications of Nanotechnology and Influencing Its Development, New York: Springer, 2007. Print.
Theodore, Louis. Nanotechnology: Environmental Implications and Solutions, London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Print.
US Environmental Protection Agency 2012. Using Nanotechnology to Detect, Clean Up and Prevent Environmental Pollution. Web. <https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/research-nanomaterials>.