Air pollution, lethal to Earth ecosystems. 7 major pollutants...world worst-polluted places: "killer communities"
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or damages the natural environment, into the atmosphere. The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems.
Air pollution is chemicals or compounds that can be harmful to human health or well being that are air bourn. This includes hundreds of toxins, as well particulate, asbestos, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, lead, and carbon dioxide.
7 Major Air Pollutants
All air pollutants are dangerous but the most heavily monitored are listed here along with a brief description and definition.
* Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - a greenhouse gas that is largely blamed for global warming.
* Lead - used to be used in car fuels, until 1960. Lead poisoning from water or airborne sources can cause brain damage, retardation and failure of the kidneys.
* Asbesto s- a fibrous mineral originally used for building homes until it was discovered that micro fibers are given off and can cause severe damage to the lungs, even death, if too much is inhaled and become lodged in the lung tissue.
* Sulfur oxides (SO2) - a compound formed by burning substances such as coal. This gas floats around eh atmosphere until dissolving into clouds and returning to earth as acid rain or sulfuric smog.
* Volatile organic compounds - particles of unburned gasoline vapors, paint, glue, and other airborne materials that derive from organisms
* Nitrogen oxides - are gases which help create smog and also can cause acid rain.
* Particulates - are also known as soot. Particulates are small microscopic pieces of matter that enter the lungs and can cause severe damage. This form of pollution has been the most heavily restricted in terms of recent regulations by lowering the standards from 10ppm (parts/million) to 2.5ppm.
Beijing, China - Beijing’s smog is a constant reminder of the fact that this city has a serious pollution problem. The air pollution levels are five times higher than the WHO standards, and frequent dust storms just add to the problem. Linfen, China - It is situated in the heart of the coal mining industry. The air is believed to be the worst in China, most homes are totally soot-blackened.
Moscow, Russia - this city seems to have more radioactive waste sites than anywhere in the world. These have been generated by the over 2000 research institutes which used to exist in this city. Even today the government is collecting radioactive waste and trying to bury it in special tombs. But the city’s inhabitants have already been exposed for years to high radiation levels. Dzerzhinsk, Russia - not really a metropolis, but this town is believed to be the most polluted town in the world. It lives with a residue of 3,00,000 tonnes of chemical waste, which were dumped here many years ago.
New Delhi, India - The high number of cars only adds to the present levels of pollution, and the dense population of the city has to cope with smog, impure water and health problems.
World’s Most Polluted Cities
Linfen, China, ranked first in the list of 10 most polluted places in the world as issued by the Blacksmith Institute in the USA. Other most polluted places include Tianying which is also in China, others from Russia, Azerbaijan, India, Ukraine, Zambia, and Peru. Many of these places are mining areas. Linfen has a high incidence of skin diseases and lung cancer among its three million inhabitants. With high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air, the city pays the price of China’s high dependence on coal. China sources 70 percent of its energy requirements from coal.
Three locations in Russia are among the world’s 10 most polluted places
Chernobyl in the Ukraine, Linfen in China and Ranipet in India are among the ten most-polluted locations in the world, according to research carried out by the New York-based Blacksmith Institute. The top ten also includes three sites in Russia, one in Peru and one in Zambia. The biggest pollutants were heavy metals and long-lasting chemicals, say the authors of the research study. The World Bank estimates that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world were in China.
The Blacksmith report describes the world’s ten worst-polluted places as killer communities. Richard Fuller, director of the Blacksmith Institute, said that a key criterion in the selection process was the nature of the pollutant. "The biggest culprits are heavy metals - such as lead, chromium and mercury - and long-lasting chemicals - such as the `Persistent Organic Pollutants' (POPs). That's because a particular concern of all these cases is the accumulating and long lasting burden building up in the environment and in the bodies of the people most directly affected," he explained.
Photos courtesy of top-10-list.org, China Daily / Agencies, globw.blogspot.com, activeset.org, Chris Madden Cartoons, Visual Dictionary Online, Young Germany / Flickr / racineur, and www.tropical-rainforest-animals.com / Owen Byrne
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