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 Dirty Air ! How Much More Can the Body Take?

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Number of posts : 414
Registration date : 2008-03-11

PostSubject: Dirty Air ! How Much More Can the Body Take?   Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:48 am

Dirty Air! How Much More Can theBody Take?
Published: 8/6/08, 8:13 AM EDT

Of all the things that keep us alive and healthy, the air we breathe is taken for granted more than anything else. But what happens when that air actually becomes a health risk?
On a clear breezy day, the air smells fresh and clean. But on a hot, still day in a heavily populated area, the air can feel heavy, hard to breathe and can even have a bad smell. When dirt and chemicals permeate the air to a sufficient extent, the air becomes polluted. This, obviously, is not a natural occurrence.

How Can Air Pollution Hurt?
Air pollution, such as acid rain, smog, smoke and aerosol droplets lingering in the air cause medical problems for many. Some common types of medical problems caused by air pollution are, but not limited to, the following:

  • Asthmatic Flare-Ups
  • Shorter Life Expectancy
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Related Respiratory Difficulties and even Cancer

How Does the Air Get Polluted?
The air becomes polluted by car, truck and boat emissions, waste incinerators, and factories (especially those that burn fossil fuels like coal). At a “ground-zero-level” (the air we breathe directly), our air is polluted by tiny particles of acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), dust, dirt, smoke, soot, and droplets from aerosols that are suspended in the air we breathe. The smaller the particles, the deeper they can get into the lungs, where they eventually cause problems.

How Can Air Pollution Be Reduced?
There are actually many ways air pollution can be reduced. Many argue that a government mandate on the issue is the only way out because the American people are too comfortable to show initiative and change their habits without government intervention. Cleaner air can be a result of:
1. Better vehicle emissions.
2. More efficient plant and factory smoke covers to catch harmful chemicals.
3. An incentive based offering from the government which prompts businesses to purchase the costly equipment to make them more energy efficient and leave less of an environmental footprint.

What Are Some Alternative "Clean" Fuel Sources?
For years there has been much talk in Congress over this issue and lately the conversations have been more detailed and are concentrated on multiple fronts.

Solar: Solar energy is one the most plentiful sources of energy for the future. One of the reasons for this is that the total energy we receive each year from the sun is around 35,000 times the total energy used by man. However, about 1/3 of this energy is either absorbed by the outer atmosphere or reflected back into space.
Solar energy is presently being used on a smaller scale through solar panels for homes but the potential for clean, solar energy is only now becoming seriously investigated.

Wind: Wind power is another alternative energy source that could be used without producing by-products that are harmful to nature. Like solar power, harnessing the wind is highly dependent upon weather and location. The average wind velocity of the Earth is around 9 m/sec. And the power that could be produced when a windmill is facing a wind of 10 mi/hr. is around 50 watts.

Geothermal: Geothermal energy is an alternative energy source, although it is not abundant enough to replace more than a minor amount of the future's energy needs. Geothermal energy is obtained from the internal heat of the planet and can be used to generate steam to run a steam turbine. This in turn generates electricity, which is a very efficient form of energy.

Tides: Similar to the more conventional hydroelectric dams, the tidal process utilizes the natural motion of the tides to fill reservoirs, which are then slowly discharged through electricity-producing turbines.
Hydroelectric: Hydroelectricity comes from the damming of rivers and utilizing the potential energy stored in the water. As the water stored behind a dam is released at high pressure, its kinetic energy is transferred onto turbine blades and used to generate electricity. This system has enormous costs up front, but has relatively low maintenance costs and provides power quite cheaply. In the United States approximately 180,000 MW of hydroelectric power potential is available, and about a third of that is currently being harnessed.
What you can do?
Get Involved!Conservation International
Stop Global Warming
America's Power
Al Gore'sAn Inconvenient Truth
We Can Solve It
Environmental Protection Agency
Climate Change Technology Program (pdf download)
Read the White House’s Addressing of Global Climate Change
The Air Quality Index
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