www.whyville.net Oct 17, 2002 Weekly Issue

Air Pollution

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Air Pollution

Guest Writer

Hey, I think you guessed it, yep its me meg959, here once again. I have been thinking, really thinking, about the air we breathe. Every minute of every day, inside and outside, we are breathing the air around us. This means that we're exposing ourselves to whatever substances and pollutants that might be in the air.

What causes outdoor pollution? Well, basically, outdoor pollution is composed of chemicals and biological substances introduced into the atmosphere primarily by human activities. Like emissions from a car or from a factory. One major source of air pollution is the use of "fossil fuels", meaning coal, oil, gas, etc. Burning these fuels releases pollutants into the atmosphere. Forest fires can also can produce some of the same substances as in fossil fuels. All of these chemicals may react in the air to produce additional pollutants. For example, certain air pollutants combine to produce "smog".

What is smog? It is a mixture of air pollutants, including gases and particles that are too small to see. Smog is often created in big cities, but it can drift easily, so smog levels can be just as high in rural and suburban areas as in bigger cities. Sometimes we think of smog as a brownish-yellowish color, but it isn't always visible.

Smog is worst and most visible from April to September in North America. But it can occur year round and happen in winter. Usually smog levels are highest from noon to 6 PM in the city, because that is when the air is warmest. And also when human-caused emissions are at their peak.

How can we improve our outdoor air quality?

  • walk, bike, or use public buses as much as possible.
  • look for alternatives to gas powered machines and vehicles.
  • try to use a rowboat or sailboat instead of a motor boat.
  • use a push type lawn mower instead of one that runs on gasoline.
  • do not burn yard waste (leaves, branches etc).
  • carpool.
  • turn off the car instead of idling; anything longer than 60 seconds creates more pollution than restarting the engine.
  • using air conditioning in the car or opening car windows uses more gas and creates extra air pollution, so use the car's vents as much as possible to stay cool.
  • keep your car tuned and avoid carrying extra weight

Well, there are some ways to protect the air we breathe. I hope you understood that we humans can make a difference if we all give a helping hand.

meg959... signing off... *cough* *cough*



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