07th of April 2016
Air pollution impacts the human health and the environment in various ways - by direct and immediate threat (smog, etc.) to the slow and gradual destruction of the body's various life-support systems. In many cases, air pollution negatively affects the structural components of the ecosystem to such an extent that the regulatory processes are not able to return to their original state and thus the homeostasis mechanism fails.
The atmosphere is the air shell of the Earth. Air quality involves the totality of its properties, reflecting the level of exposure to physical, chemical and biological factors on humans, plant and animal sphere. With the formation of civilization, the world has increasingly become dominated by anthropogenic sources of air pollution. Nowadays the global problem of the pollution of the atmosphere is acute, because the air masses are the intermediary in the pollution of other objects of nature, contributing to the spread of malware on an impressive scale (Woodword). The growth of the Earth's population, and the rate of “breeding” are the determining factors in the pollution intensity and its increase in the Geospheres of the Earth and the atmosphere. The city “enjoys” the maximum air pollution, where the typical contaminants a dust, gas supply etc.
The physiological effects on the human body of the main pollutants are fraught with the most serious consequences. Thus, when sulfur dioxide combines with moisture, sulfuric acid is formed. The latter destroys the lung tissue of humans and animals. Sulfur dioxide is particularly dangerous when its particles are deposited on dust and in this form deeply penetrate the respiratory tract. The Dust containing silicon dioxide (Si02) causes a serious pulmonary disease – silicosis (Woodword). Nitrogen oxide irritate, and in severe cases, erodes the mucous membranes, such as the eyes, lungs, contributing to the formation of toxic mists, etc. They are especially dangerous if found in polluted air, together with sulfur dioxide and other toxic compounds. In these cases, even at low concentrations of pollutants appears a synergistic effect, meaning an increase of the toxicity of the gaseous mixture (Woodword).
The contaminated ground atmosphere causes cancer of the lungs, throat and skin, central nervous system disorders, allergies and respiratory diseases, birth defects and many other diseases, a list of which is determined by the pollutants present in the air and their joint impact on the human body (Woodword). The air we breathe has an intense effect not only on humans and biota, but also on the hydrosphere, soil and vegetation, the geological environment, buildings and other man-made objects. Therefore, the air and ozone layer protection is the top priority of the environmental problems, and developed countries pay much attention to it.
Of top priority are the gasses emitted in traffic. According to Wargo, (2006) After the complete combustion of the hydrocarbon material, the products on the outcome are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor. However, it is impossible to technically achieve their complete combustion. In addition, any hydrocarbon fuel comprises a plurality of additives, which did not improve the properties of the exhaust gases (Wargo).
Total emissions of the car includes more than 200 different chemicals. These are products of incomplete combustion such as carbon monoxide, aldehydes, ketones, hydrocarbons, including carcinogenic substances (carcinogens are substances promoting the development of cancer), hydrogen, peroxides, black carbon (Wargo). The products of the thermal reaction between nitrogen and oxygen, whereby the nitrogen oxides are formed. Compounds of inorganic substances which are part of the fuel (compounds of lead and other heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, etc.)., excess oxygen. All this evaporates before our very eyes when we are stuck in traffic (Wargo).
The amount and composition of the exhaust gases of vehicles are defined by structural features, mode of operation of their engines, technical condition, quality of road surfaces, weather conditions. The peculiar features of the work of automobile engines are variable loads, i.e., periodic variations modes: idling, acceleration, steady movement and braking (all the actions we do while stuck in traffic) (Wargo). The highest concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) in the exhaust gas is observed when the engine is idling and at high loads. Thus, when the engine is idling the content of carbon monoxide in the exhaust gas can be more than two times higher than its content in the steady mode (Wargo). However, when the vehicle accelerates and moves with the established speed in the exhaust gas is observed the maximum concentrations of nitrogen oxides.
The environmental literature describes cases of mass poisoning of wild animals, birds, insects during harmful emissions with a high concentration of pollutants (especially salvo) (Lovett et al.). Thus, for example, it was found that when the toxic dust settles on some honey plants there is a noticeable increase in bee mortality. For large animals, poisonous dust, which is in the atmosphere affects them primarily through the respiratory system, as well as entering the body along with dusty eaten plants (Lovett et al.).
The toxic substances enter the plant in a number of ways. It is established that the emissions of harmful substances act directly on the green plant parts falling into the tissue through the stomata, and destroying the chlorophyll and the cell structure, as well as through the soil it affects the root system (Myers). For example, pollution of soil by dust contaminated with toxic metals, especially in conjunction with sulfuric acid, has a detrimental effect on the root system, and through it on the entire plant.
Gaseous pollutants have different effects on the state of vegetation. Some only slightly damage the leaves, needles, twigs (carbon monoxide, ethylene, and others.) Other have a detrimental effect on plants (sulfur dioxide, chlorine, mercury vapor, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, etc.). Particularly dangerous to plants is sulfur dioxide (S02) under the influence of which many trees, especially conifers - pine, spruce, fir, cedar – have been killed (Myers).
As a result of exposure to highly toxic pollutants plants have been marked with a slowdown in their growth, the formation of necrosis at the ends of the leaves and needles, failure of assimilation organs, and so on (Myers). The increase in the surface of damaged leaves can reduce the moisture flow from the soil, total saturation of the soil, which will inevitably have an effect on the environment of its habitat.
In the XXI century, the civilization of the world has entered such a stage of development where top priority is the problem of survival and self-preservation, of both the humanity and the environment, as well as rational use of natural resources. Here we are observing the problem, activated by the increase of the population of the Earth and the irrational use of natural resources. Such objections slow down the further development of scientific and technological progress of humanity. Therefore, the most important condition for the formation of humanity is that we are to protect nature. Whether vegetation is able to recover after reducing harmful pollutants will largely depend on the ability to restore the remaining green mass and the general state of the natural ecosystems. At the same time, it should be noted that low concentrations of individual pollutants are not only not harmful to plants, but also, in the example of cadmium salt, stimulate seed germination, growth of forestry, growth of certain organs of the plant. Of great importance is to pay attention to traffic jams and idling engines. Check what air you are breathing, make it a little cleaner.
Lovett G.M., Tear T.H., Evers D.C., Findlay S., Cosby J., Dunscomb J., Driscoll C. and Kathleen C. Weathers. Effects of Air Pollution on Ecosystems and Biological Diversity in the Eastern United States. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2009. Web 06 of April 2016. <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227715780_Effects_of_Air_Pollution_on_Ecosystems_and_Biological_Diversity_in_the_Eastern_United_States >
Myers, C. The Effects of Air Pollution on Plants. Livestrong.com. 2015. Web 06 of April 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/141726-the-effects-air-pollution-plants/ >
Wargo, J. “The Harmful Effects of Vehicle Exhaust: A case For Policy Change.” Environment and Human Health, Inc. 2006.
Woodword, C. Air Pollution. Explainthatstuff.com. 2016. Web 06 of April 2016. <http://www.explainthatstuff.com/air-pollution-introduction.html>