This is one of the conflicts that contribute to various aspects of an individual’s life, whether they may realize it or not. In this paper will include the sources that cause pollution with the effects it cause as well as policies on the regulation of air pollution.
I conducted various types of research in finding out the connections between air pollution and the factors that contributes to it. Air is crucial for our survival in the world. It not only provides life to us but also fundamental for the environment. However, our environment is beyond healthy or in its natural state. Why is that you ask? Air pollution, which not only has caused air impurities but has also, affected the quality of healthy air. As Earth’s population continues to grow, people are putting ever-increasing pressure on the planet’s atmosphere. Various types of pollutants are used by humans daily, which result in bad air quality. The San Joaquin Valley is a rapidly developing area; between 1980 and 2003, the population increased by 75%, (1.5 million people) hence population growth percentage projections place it into the top 10 fastest growing areas in California resulting into where the population is now approximately 3.9 million people. This valley in California is known for being one of the most air-polluted regions. This pollution causes approximately 1,300 premature deaths, emergency room visits, and lost school and work days costing valley residents about $11 billion each year. More than 500 rules and regulations have been implemented to reduce the air pollution since 1992. The Valley has an annual fine of $29 million until the 1-hr ozone attainment is under control (Valley Air, 2004).
Air Pollution, is when harmful substances including particulates (pm) and ozone are introduced into Earth’s atmosphere. Ozone, is a colorless and odorless gas, and the chief component of urban smog. Ambient O3 is formed by the reaction of sun- light with nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. PM is a heterogeneous mixture of small solid or liquid particles that can be inhaled. Fine particles (PM2.5) are generated by combustion processes, such as diesel powered engines, power generation, and wood burning. Larger particles (PM10) come from dust produced by construction, mining, and agricultural activities. This can range from various substances made up of small solids and liquids such as dust, soot, smoke, ash, mists, fumes, and vapors. Statistically, this can be traced all the way back to the industrialization period to where air pollutions first became noted. However, it could have been happening before that as well, but we just didn’t figure it out then. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set health-based standards for particles smaller than 10 microns (PM10) and particles smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in order to organize levels of severity in air pollution. Since the San Joaquin Valley is best described as a basin surrounded by mountains that restrict air movement, distillated air pollutants can efficiently produce ozone, therefore making it more vulnerable for air pollution than other regions. The Valley is an extremely competent environment for photochemical smog (ozone) formation in summer months. Because of the chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and reactive organic gases (ROG) in the presence of sunlight and heat, ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas that has been found to cause or intensify a range of pulmonary diseases because of its ability to cause chemical reactions with lung tissue. Ozone is considered one of six criteria pollutants that must meet a National Ambient Air Quality Standard under the federal Clean Air Act. The current federal ozone standard currently is 0.08 parts per million (ppm) about over eight hours.
One the most ways our environment suffers is from particulate matter (pm), which plays a major part in air pollution. Air pollution causes suffering for many San Joaquin residents. Approximately fifteen percent of the region’s children have asthma, a rate that is three times the national average while; Fresno (the valley’s biggest city) has the third highest rate of asthma in the country. During summer months ozone levels cause risks for respiratory irritation and aggravate problems such as asthma, while winter complications with particulate matter (microscopic specks of soot) are much more dangerous. This can further result in blood clots and even prompt heart attacks. The concentration of particulate matter (PM 2.5) during the Valley winter months, results in frequent violations of the federal standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. Apart from disordering lung function, particles of this size (less than 2.5 microns) are capable of entering the bloodstream and weakening heart tissue, leading to a range of cardio-pulmonary damages not the least of which is premature death. During winter, PM 2.5 is concentrated by persistent thermal inversions created by cold air masses migrating from the surrounding mountain slopes to the Valley ground when the sun sets. This cold, dense air is then trapped beneath the warmer daytime air.
Over the last few decades, air pollution has increased to a level threatening future generations (Wolozin, 1968). About 85% of the emissions that cause air pollution come from mobile sources like vehicles, diesel trucks and buses, and the movement of goods through ports, rail yards and freight distribution centers. These mobile vehicles are responsible for about 51% of the nitrogen oxides NOx and about 33% of reactive gases (Calef, 2007). The Valley is known for having heavy traffic traveling through Highway 99 and I-5. Nonetheless, pollutants are also transported into the Valley from the Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley. However, residents have little to or no access to public transportation, and spend a extremely high percent of time and reliance on their vehicles. Issues like these cause the San Joaquin Valley to be uncommonly prone to substantial air pollution problems. According to state statistics, mobile source emissions account for 31% of the valley’s reactive hydrocarbon inventory, 72% of carbon monoxide, and 61% of nitrogen oxides.