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Air Pollution

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  1. Global Dimming
Lesson Plans
  1. Air Pollution (NASA Sample)
      Provides studies for kids to explore air pollution. 4-00

  2. Ozone in the Stratosphere (University of California - SEGway)
      Provides a lesson to study ozone levels in the stratosphere. 3-01

  1. Air Quality and Pollution (
      Provides articles and sources of information by subject. 3-03

  1. Water Cycle (NASA for Kids)
      Provides a quiz on the water cycle. 7-05

  1. -07-22-10 Editorial: Cap and Trade Is Dead (
      "The headline has been written countless times, but this time it is true: carbon cap-and-trade of any sort will not come out of this Congress—and perhaps it never will. Instead of comprehensive economy-wide carbon cap that Senator John Kerry had urged—and that the House had already passed a year ago—or even the compromise utility-only cap bill that had been suggested as an alternative, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that he would move forward next week on a bill that only deals with the BP oil spill and a few other low-profile energy policies." 07-10

  2. -12-22-07 Bush Administration Position on Pollution Is Flawed (
      "Environmentalists harbor no illusions about the Bush Administration. From a 2001 decision to weaken regulations on arsenic in drinking water to its antagonistic performance at last week's U.N. climate change talks in Bali, the White House has consistently opposed green goals. But Wednesday's move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denying California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles was an unpleasant surprise, even by Bush standards."

      "The EPA's Johnson argued that California's regulations had been preempted by national fuel economy legislation just been signed into law by President Bush, which requires all new cars and trucks to meet a toughened 35-mpg standard by 2020."

      "But that's simply not true. The new national fuel bill sets 35 mpg as a federal fuel economy floor, not a ceiling — and in any case, California officials contend that their rules would require at least 36 mpg by 2016, with room to grow." 12-07

  3. Clean Air News (Sierra Club)
      Provides news related to pollution of the air.

  1. -09-12-07 The World's Most Polluted Places (
      "China's State Environmental Protection Agency says that Linfen has the worst air in the country, which is saying something, considering that the World Bank has reported that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are Chinese." 09-07

  2. -CO2 Emissions in the U.S. Determined in Detail (
      "Biogeochemists located where the most carbon dioxide emissions occur in the U.S. using a new mapping system. With this program-available to anyone on the Web-researchers were able to extract information about carbon dioxide emissions by transforming data on local air pollution and combining it with geographic information systems (GIS) data to layer the emissions onto infrastructures at the Earth's surface. The map helps us learn more about carbon emissions and gives scientists a way to check the accuracy of satellite images."

  3. -Coal Gasification ( star
      The United States generates over 50 percent of its electricity from coal plants. The USA is number one in the world in coal reserves.

      "A coal gasification power plant, however, typically gets dual duty from the gases it produces. First, the coal gases, cleaned of impurities, are fired in a gas turbine - much like natural gas - to generate one source of electricity. The hot exhaust of the gas turbine is then used to generate steam for a more conventional steam turbine-generator. This dual source of electric power, called a 'combined cycle,' is much more efficient in converting coal's energy into usable electricity. The fuel efficiency of a coal gasification power plant can be boosted to 50 percent or more."

      "Higher efficiencies translate into more economical electric power and potential savings for ratepayers. A more efficient plant also uses less fuel to generate power, meaning that less carbon dioxide is produced. In fact, coal gasification power processes under development by the Energy Department could cut the formation of carbon dioxide by 40 percent or more compared to today's conventional coal-burning plant."

      "The capability to produce electricity, hydrogen, chemicals, or various combinations while eliminating nearly all air pollutants and potentially greenhouse gas emissions makes coal gasification one of the most promising technologies for the energy plants of tomorrow." 10-05

  4. -Editorial: EPA Releases New Smog Standard (
      "The Obama administration has a long and tortured history with the smog rule; the EPA moved to strengthen it in 2011 but was overruled by the White House. Now the administration has finally imposed a new rule, only it’s too lax and four years too late. EPA is lowering the definition of a safe level for ozone from below 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb. That’s still well above what the environmental and public health communities consider truly safe for human health, which is 60 ppb." 10-15

  5. -Military Open Burning of 89,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Per Day (
      "Just a few miles away from the population center of Minden, Louisiana, 15 million pounds of military explosives are sitting in cardboard boxes, waiting to detonate."

      "The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army, and two Louisiana state agencies have put forth a solution: Burn it. Burn the M6 in the open over the course of one year. Put it in trays, light it on fire, and let the smoke and fumes drift into the air. A year-long schedule would amount to 80,000 pounds of chemicals burned each day."

      "There are alternatives to an open burn — many of which are now being considered at Camp Minden. “Probably the most attractive” in terms of minimizing the environment impact is something called transportable rotary kiln incineration, according to EPA documents. That’s essentially a large, transportable closed kiln that gets brought in to a facility for waste disposal." 03-15

  6. -Report: Simple Linear Relationship Found Between CO2 Emissions and Temperature (
      "Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia University's Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment has found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Matthews, together with colleagues from Victoria and the U.K., used a combination of global climate models and historical climate data to show that there is a simple linear relationship between total cumulative emissions and global temperature change."

      "These findings mean that we can now say: if you emit that tonne of carbon dioxide, it will lead to 0.0000000000015 degrees of global temperature change. If we want to restrict global warming to no more than 2 degrees, we must restrict total carbon emissions – from now until forever – to little more than half a trillion tonnes of carbon, or about as much again as we have emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution."

  7. -Smog So Bad in Beijing, Sun Rise Is Invisible (
      "Air pollution in the Chinese capital reached new, choking heights on Thursday. Those who still felt the urge to catch a glimpse of sunlight were able to gather around the city’s gigantic LED screens, where this glorious sunrise was broadcast as part of a patriotic video." 01-14

  8. Acid Rain Report (UMAC - OCP)
      Describes the threat of acid rain. 4-02

  9. Agreement Reached on Reducing Pollution (BBC)
      Provides the conditions of a global agreement of 178 nations to reduce carbon emissions and thereby reduce global warming. The agreement, a revision of the Kyoto protocol, was developed and approved in November, 2001. The largest polluter in the world, the USA, refused to participate.

  10. Air Pollution in Cities Dangerous (CBS News)
      "A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says long-term exposure to the air pollution in some of America's biggest metropolitan areas significantly raises the risk of dying from lung cancer and is about as dangerous as living with a smoker."

  11. Air Purifiers - Ratings (Allergy Buyers Club)
      Rates models of air purifiers and includes a variety of types. 09-06

  12. Air Purifiers - Reviews (
      Reviews air purifiers. 09-06

  13. Air Quality Today - Where You Live (Environmental Protection Agency)
      Provides a forecast for the day on the EPA Air Quality Index for pollution levels where you live. 8-01

  14. Air Quality for Schools, a National Problem (USA Today)
      "Using the government's most up-to-date model for tracking toxic chemicals, USA TODAY spent eight months examining the impact of industrial pollution on the air outside schools across the nation. The model is a computer simulation that predicts the path of toxic chemicals released by thousands of companies."

      "USA TODAY used it to identify schools in toxic hot spots — a task the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had never undertaken."

      "The result: a ranking of 127,800 public, private and parochial schools based on the concentrations and health hazards of chemicals likely to be in the air outside. The model's most recent version used emissions reports filed by 20,000 industrial sites in 2005, the year Hitchens closed."

      "The potential problems that emerged were widespread, insidious and largely unaddressed:" 12-08

  15. Autos - The Least Polluting Models (
      Provides a list of the 12 best automobiles for low pollution levels. 08-08

  16. Aviation Ready to Move to Biofuel (
      "Cost, not technology, is the rub. Biofuels have the potential to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by 80%, according to the International Air Transport Association, but that works only if the biofuel industry can scale up to commercial production and scale down prices. U.S. airlines guzzle 18 billion gal. of jet fuel annually—just shy of 10% of the U.S.’s total fossil-fuel use—at a cost of $50 billion, or 25% to 35% of their operating costs. Switching to biofuels would increase jet-fuel costs substantially. When Alaska Airlines debuted its first commercial biofuel-powered flight late last year, it paid six times the cost of traditional jet fuel. United’s biofuel was four times as costly." 09-12

  17. Bicycles (Awesome Library)
      Summarizes strengths and weaknesses of bicycles and makes some recommendations. 6-01

  18. Biosphere Finds Critical Importance of Microbes (PBS)
      Provides a description of the failure of Biosphere II as a result from too little oxygen, which in turn was caused by growing microbes too fast. (In the oceans, microbes supply oxygen that is released into the atmosphere and also feeds plants and ocean creatures. 1-01

  19. Burning Coal a Leading Cause of Air Toxics (
      "Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxics." 10-07

  20. China's Coal Burning May Be Earth's Biggest Threat (New York Times)
      "Unless China finds a way to clean up its coal plants and the thousands of factories that burn coal, pollution will soar both at home and abroad. The increase in global-warming gases from China's coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years, surpassing by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks." 06-06

  21. Co-Production of Power and Biochar (
      "A nascent biochar industry is emerging in connection with biomass power technologies that coproduce electricity and char via gasification and pyrolysis." 08-13

  22. Coal Power Plants and Pollution (Sierra Club)
      "In the US today, coal is the number one source of electricity produced (54%), followed by nuclear sources (21%), hydropower (16%), natural gas (9%), oil (2%), and other non-renewables (3%)." "Out of the entire electric industry, coal-fired power plants contribute 96% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 93% of nitrogen oxide emissions, 88% of carbon dioxide emissions, and 99% of mercury emissions." 11-02

  23. Dirty Cloud Over China Growing (International Herald Tribune)
      "But one statistic offered last week by a top Chinese environmental official should stimulate genuine alarm inside and outside China. The official, Zhang Lijun, warned that pollution levels here could more than quadruple within 15 years if the country does not curb its rapid growth in energy consumption."

      "Nor does China's air pollution respect borders: On certain days almost 25 percent of the particulate matter clotting the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Environmental experts in California predict that China could eventually account for roughly a third of the state's air pollution." 10-05

  24. Editorial: Global Warming and Financial Interests ( - Gelbspan)
      "Five months after Bush's inauguration, a West Virginia Coal Association official told a meeting of the organization: 'You did everything you could to elect a Republican president. Now you are already seeing in his actions the payback ... for what we did.' "

      "That 'payback' came in the form of an about-face on a campaign promise Candidate Bush made in 1999 -- to repeat nationally what he had done as governor of Texas, imposing a carbon dioxide emissions cap on the state's coal-fired power plants. In a letter to four Republican senators, Bush said he was backing away from the cap because of the 'incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change and the lack of commercially available technologies for removing and storing carbon dioxide.' "

      "Particularly pleased by Bush's flip-flop was Irl Englehardt, chair of the Peabody Group, the country's biggest coal company. Englehardt had donated $250,000 to the Republican National Committee, and served as an adviser to the Bush-Cheney Energy Transition Team." 11-05

  25. Electric Cars - Lack of Demand or Lack of Commitment (
      Discusses whether there is a shortage of demand for ZEVs (zero emission vehicles) or whether there is a lack of commitment by auto manufactureres to make them. 9-01

  26. Energy Resources of the USA (
      Provides information on the energy resources of the nation. "The United States of America is the world's largest energy producer, consumer, and net importer. It also ranks eleventh worldwide in reserves of oil, sixth in natural gas, and first in coal."

      "For the electric power sector, coal-fired plants accounted for 53% of generation, nuclear 21%, natural gas 15%, hydroelectricity 7%, oil 3%, geothermal and "other" 1%. During the first eight months of 2004, electric power generation rose about 2.2% year-over-year." 10-05

  27. Few Utilities Produce Majority of Polluting Emissions (Lycos - Lazaroff)
      Summarizes the results of a report on pollution from utilities. "The study by a coalition of environmental and public interest groups found that between four and six companies account for 25 percent of the emissions of each pollutant." 3-02

  28. Fuel Cells - Hydrogen Storage for Fuel Cells ( - Spice)
      Describes a new storage method for hydrogen that uses carbon nanotubes, allowing travel by automobile for thousands of miles on a single tank of hydrogen. 1-01

  29. Global Warming - Explanation for Kids (Environmental Protection Agency)
      Provides information on global warming for kids. 12-00

  30. Indoor Air Quality (Environmental Protection Agency)
      Discusses how to improve indoor air quality, especially related to second hand smoke, mold, radon, asthma, and radiation. 8-01

  31. Largest Environmental Settlement in Justice Department History (CNN News)
      "In the largest environmental settlement in Justice Department history, American Electric Power has agreed to install $4.6 billion in equipment to sharply reduce emissions at coal-fired power plants in five states, sources said."

      "Government lawyers and scientists say 70 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions each year and 30 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions are produced by electric utility plants."

      "Environmental scientists have linked emissions from coal-fired power plants to forest degradation, waterway damage and reservoir contamination." 10-07

  32. Least Polluting Cars of 2008 (
      Lists the "greenest" vehicles of 2008. 08-08

  33. Low Pollution Two-Stroke Engine Announced (
      Describes a two-stroke engine developed by college students. Claims that the engine produces one percent of the pollution generated by a standard two-stroke engine. 3-02

  34. Millions Die Each Year from Air Pollution (World Health Organization)
      States that up to three million people die each year as a direct result of air pollution. Identifies the types of pollutants that are harmful and provides guidelines for common pollutants. 8-01

  35. Ozone Depletion (EPA)
      Provides an organized and comprehensive set of papers, projects, quizes, and other activities to help us learn more about the role of ozone in our lives and how to prevent depletion.

  36. Ozone Depletion (Nature - Ball)
      Methyl chloride, which depletes ozone, is building up faster than hydroxl free radicals in the air can neutralize it. This paper explores the causes. 1-00

  37. Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (
      Provides the NOISH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. 11-09

  38. Policies to Reduce Pollution (Sierra Club)
      Provides policies to support for reducing air pollution. 11-02

  39. Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes in China (MSNBC News)
      "No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo."

      "But just as the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut." 08-07

  40. Solar Cooking Boxes (
      Shows how to build a solar cooker using a cardboard box. "Research has found that 36% of the world's fuelwood needs (or 350 million tonnes of wood per year, according to UNICEF) could be replaced by solar box cookers, saving 500 kg of wood per family per year, equalling millions of trees."

      "Indoor smoke pollution now ranks 8th in health burden worldwide (lost years of healthy life), and ranks fourth in the "least-developed" countries (which make up about 40% of the world population) according to the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2002."

      "The WHO says diseases spread through contaminated water cause 80% of the world's illnesses. Solar box cookers can pasteurize drinking water: heating water to 65 deg C for six minutes destroys disease organisms, and this temperature is easily achieved with solar box cookers."

  41. States Are Starting to Require Clean Energy Sources (USA Today)
      "In Washington state, voters approved a measure Nov. 7 mandating that 15% of electrical power come from renewable sources by 2020."

      "That makes 20 states and the District of Columbia with such requirements, according to the Department of Energy. Two others states — Illinois and Vermont — have non-binding goals on using renewable energy sources." 11-06

  42. Ten Ways to Drive Cleaner Cars (
      Provides ten ways to buy greener. 7-05

  43. The EPA Declares CO2 in the Air a Danger (
      "The Environmental Protection Agency took a major step Monday toward regulating greenhouses gases, concluding that climate changing pollution threatens the public health and the environment." 12-09

  44. Toxic Fish Could Help Shut Down Heaviest Polluters (
      "A proposed rule on mercury, a pollutant bad for fish and the people who eat too many of them, could help the Obama administration get near its short-term climate goal -- even if Congress fails this year or next to pass a bill tackling greenhouse gases directly." 07-10

  45. World's Most Polluted Cities (
      "This soot-blackened city [Linfen] in China's inland Shanxi province makes Dickensian London look as pristine as a nature park. Shanxi is the heart of China's coal belt, and the hills around Linfen are dotted with mines, legal and illegal, and the air is filled with burning coal. Don't bother hanging your laundry — it'll turn black before it dries. China's State Environmental Protection Agency says that Linfen has the worst air in the country, which is saying something, considering that the World Bank has reported that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are Chinese." 03-09

  1. Biofuels - Making Biofuels (Journey to Forever)
      Provides instructions for making biofuels to reduce pollution. 12-00

Purchase Resources
  1. Testing for Chemical Hazards in the Air (
      "The Chameleon, a field-configurable chemical detection device, is the most innovative hazardous chemical detection device on the market today. It provides a low-cost, easy-to-use, hands-free solution for first responders, military and industrial personnel. Each disposable cassette detects a different toxic gas, enabling the user to configure the reusable Chameleon armband for the needs of his or her specific mission on a daily basis."

      Awesome Library does not endorse this product but provides it as an example. 11-09


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