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Release of Pollutants from Smokestacks of Factories

It is an accepted fact that smokestacks are constructed to direct the smoke upwards and lessen the possible pollution to the surrounding areas. One can imagine the smoke pollution and great disturbance to a serene neighborhood or a university if someone burn garbage and tires as if an open bonfire. Imagine what will happen if a manufacturing plant of automobile tires operate without a smokestack. Whenever, there is a factory, an electric plant, a manufacturing industry or a restaurant, smokestacks is always part of the landscape. It is a common knowledge that smoke being emitted in smokestacks contains lot

of impurities, pollutants and soot floating in the air and can aggravate the suffering of asthmatic persons. During the 1940’s, sight of towering smokestacks billowing smoke is a sign of progress and employment in a county in the U. S. It is a reason for celebration if a manufacturing company set up a smokestack in a county as it means livelihood. In the 21st century, smokestacks were considered public enemy number one in the U. S. as it means pollution to a county and the business and employment side is being set aside. Cleaner air has become a luxury in the 21st century due to pollution from smokestacks of mostly coal-

fired plants in the U. S. More and more coal- fired plants were established in the U. S. in the 21st century as this is the cheapest way of generating electricity to power the homes and industries to cope up with the progress and demands of globalization disregarding the pollution it created as it can be minimized but not totally eliminated with the same modern technology. From the American continent, to Europe, Asia, Africa and Middle East, smokestacks has become a symbol of progress and industrialization in the 21st century. Towering smokestacks adore the landscape of companies in oil producing countries of the Middle

East. Qatar is no exception. This oil rich country welcome globalization in two ways. It develop its oil-rich natural resources and the wealth from oil development is being invested in real state; in the development of mega-cities and mega-malls oftentimes reclaiming land from the sea to expand its area of development to attract international 2 tourists. Oil resources are not finite. Time will come that their oil resources will be depleted. There is no worry, as the country can always shift all his wealth to development of the area for tourism and still survive in luxury. As Qatar develop further its oil resources,

more and more towering smokestacks were established. From the common knowledge that smokestacks means progress and pollution, it can be hypothesized that the oil-rich country is not spared from air pollution. As the smokestacks were towering, it can be hypothesized that the motive of the country while developing full blast their oil economy is to protect its citizens from air pollution as the higher the smokestacks, the farther it can throw away the pollution thus sparing its citizens and come what may for the countries where the polluted air may go. This paper aims to document the reason and extent of air pollution brought

about by smokestacks of industries. Moreover, this paper aims to document the effect of smokestacks pollution of the environment, to people and the ways to minimize and solve the problem. Air Pollution Problem from Smokestacks Cheryl E. Merrit of Yale University in her online article on cause and effect of air pollution said that a smokestack with billowing smoke for a number of decades has been the symbol of America’s prowess on technology and industrial wealth. In the last decade according to the author, the smokestack has become the symbol of Achiless heel instead of its strength (5th par. ).

This is due to the fact that it has been established that smokestacks can contribute greatly not only in the pollution of air in the locality but also in the air, water and environmental pollution on international scale. The air pollution contributed by smokestacks are formed in the atmosphere as a result of reaction of chemicals in the smoke with other impurities in the air in the presence of sunlight. The majority of the pollutant introduced into the air by smokestacks as a result of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and organic substances are carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (6th par.

). Carbon dioxide is an essential component of plant cells as it is being used to manufacture food by the plant 3 with the aid of sunlight called photosynthesis. It is an accepted fact that the proliferation of industries and cutting down of trees resulted to accumulation of too much CO2 gases in the atmosphere which together with other harmful gases from the smoke can cause destruction of the ozone layer. It is now a common knowledge that the accumulation of CO2 gasses and the destruction of the ozone layer make the universe warmer which is the principle

behind global warming that we experience at present. We can therefore conclude that pollution from smokestacks can contribute greatly to global warming. Due to the fact that fossil fuels is being used in industries in Qatar, compared to coal in the U. S. , the other pollution gases released by smokestacks is similar to car engine exhaust. Oxides of nitrogen, sulfur and unburned hyrdrocarbons were the gases released in addition to carbon monoxide. Photochemical reaction among these pollutants result to industrial or gray smog (types of air pollution, 5th par. ).

The oxides of sulfur react to other air pollutants and form sulfuric acid which is toxic to all living things and many other materials including buildings and works of art. Industrial smog has been known to cause disasters. One of the worst disaster recorded happened in London in 1952 due to five days of stagnant air and high pressure system which caused about 4,000 deaths. In Pennsylvania, it was recorded that 6,000 became ill and 20 died in 1948 due to stagnant gray smog (7th par. ). Brown smog is also a type of air pollution caused by photochemical reaction of exhaust gases in

warm and dry cities with lots of sunshine as in Los Angeles, Denver and Salt Lake City. This type of smog is eye irritant , can obscure vision and can damage plants. (8th par. ) The formation of smog based from the information just presented is an example of local air pollution, the cause of which can be attributed to exhaust from automobiles and smokestacks. There is a proof available that air pollution brought about by towering smokestacks can travel from source to other continents. Allen Best of Forest Magazine in spring of 2009 revealed that China don’t only export dresses for sale at Wall Mart but also

air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. Atmospheric scientists at Smoke Peak 4 Laboratory studied whether the westerly winds brought not only snows but other contaminants from China’s ever increasing coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources. The findings indicated that pollutants of Chinese origin from smokestacks of plants burning coal were traced at Storm Peak Laboratory 4,000 feet above town at Routt National Forest of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (3rd par. ). The author reported that air quality in the US has improved in the last decade but Richard Van Curen, an Associate

Researcher form University of California, Davis claimed that increased pollution reaching the area from Asia might pollute the already clean air. This means that additional efforts and sacrifices are needed by Americans to effect additional air pollution reduction to compensate for the damage brought about by the imported pollution from Asia. The evidence found from the dust of Chinese origin clearly indicated that air pollution can transcend oceanic and continental boundaries. Moreover, the findings suggest the fact that forest wilderness cannot fully stop nor offer protection from pollution. The findings

also indicated that the US lies geographically downwind of the China which is the fastest growing economy at present (“far reaching effect”, 1st par. ). The author further stated that China is not the sole source of the trans-oceanic pollution but the massive expansion of industrialization of China in the recent years point to the fact that the country is the primary source. The author also revealed that included in the migratory stew of pollutants are tiny particulates of aerosols that came from “the wood-burning kitchen fires of rural Chinese villages, from cars and trucks now pouring onto urban streets and highways, and from the

smokestacks of the smelters, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants that have sprung up across that massive country”(“far reaching effect”, 2nd par. , lines 5 to 7). Based from the facts that were presented, it was established that smokestacks contribute very much to air pollution which can affect the environment on a global scale and the people living in it. Due to globalization, power is needed to run the machineries of industry and produce the basic commodities needed by the population which in turn will develop the economy. The problem is we are made to choose between two evils.

Maintain a clean air 5 and promote hunger while by shutting down the smokestacks of industries and farms who provide the food or minimize pollution of the environment by doing innovations to reduce the dangers of emissions while providing the needs of the population. Fortunately, the world chose the latter and that is to let smokestacks of industries to operate but minimize pollution through innovation and provide the needs of the population. The reasons for the existence of the problem The existing problem is we cannot do away with pollution and what we can do is just

minimize it due to the fact that doing so will mean shutting down the industries who give us employment, the airplanes, cars and ships that move people and transport the necessities. It was revealed by Allen Best of Forest Magazine in spring of 2009 that though China is slowing down due to global financial meltdown, the demand for electrical power has been growing at 13% annually. This means putting up a power plant running on coal with smokestacks every 7 days, for 365 days a year(“far reaching effects”, 3rd par. ). In the US, The Environmental Defense Fund revealed that the 1,200 power plants with their

smokestacks is the leading contributor to particulate pollution and is responsible for 60% of sulfur dioxide released from all sources in the country. For this reason, smokestacks in the US were considered public enemy number one. The environmental agency also revealed that only about one fourth of the 1,200 power plants have scrubbers in their smokestacks to reduce sulfur dioxide pollution despite the technology being available for over 30 years now (5th par. ). In the end, much as we wish this to be a reality, the world cannot do away with pollution problem but has to live with it as a cost they have to sacrifice and pay in

exchange for all the modernities that make life worth living. Negative Consequences on the Environment and Population The website of American Meteorological Society or ametsoc. org revealed that 90% of air pollutants are natural in sources such as volcanoes, pollen, dust and fires and the remaining 10% which are man made or anthropogenic are the most toxic (1st par. ). The 6 anthropogenic sources include pollution from agricultural machineries, industrial and urban sources. The air pollutants are not only irritating but also contribute to health problems and death.

Prolonged and repeated carbon monoxide exposure result to poor reflexes as the CO attaches to hemoglobin of the blood and displaces oxygen. Ringing of the ears, headaches, dizziness and drowsiness, nausea, breathing difficulties , reduced physical vigor and comatose which can lead to death are the common health problems associated with carbon monoxide poisoning. Lead which is a by- product of burning fossil fuels can cause kidney, reproductive system and nervous system damage. Nitrogen oxide pollutants can elevate the risk of viral infections and respiratory illness like pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema.

Ozone or O3 which is a by-product of car gasoline and diesel emissions can lead to chest discomfort due to damage to cell lining of nasal passages and can lead to reduced mental capacity, headaches, nausea and chronic lung diseases. It is also an eye irritant. Sulfur dioxide which is a product of sulfur from coal plants and oxygen reaction is known to aggravate heart and lung diseases and can cause cancer after decades of exposure. The bigger particulates from air pollution or PM10 can cause chronic bronchitis, elevated asthma attacks and aggravate heart ailments. (“health effects”, 1st to 7th par. ).

Air pollutants from smokestacks can cause local or urban effects. The different particulates emitted and sunshine together can cause thermal inversions or stagnant air pollution over an urban area which refuse to move but stay over for hours and even days. Polluted air in urban heat islands contains over 1million condensation nuclei where moisture can adhere and produce rainfall or acid rain thus changing the rainfall pattern in an area which may affect agriculture and industrial production. “The effects of factory and smokestack emissions was noted in England by John Evelyn as early as the 17th century.

The term “acid rain” was coined by the British chemist Robert Angus Smith in his book, Air and Rain: The Beginnings of a Chemical Climatology (1872)” (“local/urban”, 1st par. , 7 lines 1to 3). The US Meteorological Association claimed Ozone pollutants from smokestacks as responsible for the deadly smog. Formation of acid rain is also an offshoot of smokestacks pollution and often occurs as regional and trans-boundary concern. Anthropogenic emissions in the US contain 70% sulfur and 88% Nitrous oxide. These chemicals are hygroscopic or easily absorbs moisture from the air.

The precipitation from these pollutants produces acid rain and known to turn lakes and waterways acidic affecting the algae and planktons which are the first occupants of the food chain. The acidity eliminates the algae and the planktons thus eliminating the fishes and crabs and everything in the food chain. Acid rain is also known to destroy great outdoor sculptures of contemporary art (“regional”, 1st par. ). The acid rain is normally formed miles from tall smokestacks pollutant. In the US, majority of the smokestacks are in the Midwest but acid rain is being experienced in the Northeast, an indication that

smokestacks pollution can travel across long distances. Accumulation of too much CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere from anthropogenic emissions aggravated by towering smokestacks can contribute greatly to global warming. The heat from the sun can enter the earth but it cannot escape out as it is being blocked by polluted clouds giving rise to greenhouse effect resulting to global warming. This global warming result to melting of the polar ice caps rising the sea level and submerging precious islands and coastal areas. Conversely, the thick layer of particulates can prevent the sun

from heating the earth thus causing global cooling. This is the extent of the problem and effects of air pollution aggravated by towering smokestacks which was proven to be local or just adjacent to the area where smokestacks were located, regional or trans-continental boundary and global in terms of global warming. Aggravated pollution result from smokestacks as their emission is pushed upward the atmosphere and then distributed locally through thermal inversion or carried to long distances by wind. Inventions and innovations are available 30 years ago related to reducing the pollutants being emitted

8 from smokestacks according to US Environmental Defense Fund website (edf. org, 5th par). Further information from the same source said that the sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide content which are responsible for acid rain and smog respectively from smokestacks emissions can be reduced by as much as 90% by installing the scrubbers (edf. org. ,”how to halt…solutions”, 2nd par. ) Summary and Conclusion It was documented from the sources that smokestacks being so tall spew emissions into the atmosphere which in turn can move within the locality as affected by thermal inversions resulting to smog.

Acid rain was proven also to be an effect of smokestacks pollution as it has the proven capacity to travel cross- oceans and cross-continents. A proof of this was documented from pollution of Chinese origin found in the forested areas of ski resort in Colorado. It is obvious that the high forested region of the United States will be affected from smokestacks pollution as the former release their emissions fairly high in the atmosphere and can easily be exported to other continents by wind. The extent of the problem of smokestacks pollution will remain in the future as the

world require more energy to produce goods, products and services as a result of the demands of globalization. Energy produced by power plants fuelled by coal in China and US and gasoline by running the engines in Qatar all contributed to air pollution and global warming. It is for obvious reasons why smokestacks are being erected so high as nearly touching the sky. It is to throw away the pollution to other continents and spare their own citizen and country. But despite these efforts to spare their country and citizens from the evils of pollution, nature has its own fury of coming back. Thermal inversion as proven by

the documents can render the polluted air to go down and stay for days in form of gray and brown smog which are both destructive to health of people and the environment. The world chose the lesser evil, and that is to provide people with the needed basic commodities to cope up with modernization and minimize pollution from smokestacks by using scrubbers. 9 Works Cited Ametroc. org. “Assessing the Damage Air Pollution Can Cause”. Effects of Air Pollutants. 23 March 2009 < http://www. ametsoc. org/Sloan/cleanair/cleanaireffects. html> Best, Allen. “Made in China”. Forest Magazine. Spring 2009. 23 March 2009

http://www. fseee. org/forestmag/1102best. shtml Merrit, Cheryl, E. “The Cause and Effect of Air Pollution”. Yale-New Haven ResearchInstitute. 23 March 2009 <http://www. cis. yale. edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1988/6/88. 06. 06. x. html Environmentaldefense fund. org. “How to Halt the Increasing Threat to Clean, Healthy Air”. Power Plants, Pollution and Soot. 23 March 2009 < http://www. edf. org/page. cfm? tagID=78> Environmentaldefense fund. org. “Particulate Spewing Power Plant Smokestacks Public Health Enemy No. 1”. 29 June 2004 Press Release. 23 March 2009 <http://www. edf. org/pressrelease. cfm? ContentID=3836>

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