Chemicalpollution can be defined as the release of certain compounds in theenvironment that may cause disease, death to humans as well as plantsand animals. As observed by Linkin (2007), the damage caused by airpollutants can also damage built environment such as buildings. Itis important to note that the atmosphere is a complex systemcomprising of natural gases that are essential to support life on ourplanet. In that case therefore, an air pollutant can therefore bedefined as a substance that can cause harmful effects to humans or tothe ecosystem. It is possible that the source of the pollutant isnatural or synthetic. In this paper, two major air pollutants arediscussed. They are carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.
Carbonmonoxide is a colorless, odorless and very poisonous gas that isproduced as a result of incomplete combustion of various types offuels. As a result of incomplete combustion of the organic matter,there is no enough supply of oxygen to enable oxidation to carbondioxide. It is important to note that carbon monoxide is a tasteless,colorless and odorless gas and this makes it very deadly since peopleare not likely to detect it (Manahan, 2004).
Carbonmonoxide can be produced from motor vehicles exhausts, cookingequipments, gasoline powered machines among many others. There arevarious symptoms of carbon monoxide gas poisoning. Some of the mildsymptoms that are likely to be noticed after the inhalation of thegas are, headaches, confusion and flu like effects while on the otherhand significant inhalation of the gas is likely to cause toxicity ofthe nervous system, cause cardiac attack and even death (Manahan,2004).
Carbonmonoxide combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin in theblood and thus making it hard for the release of enough oxygen to thetissues. Once carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin, it causeshypoxia and in excess can easily lead to death (Linkin, 2007). Mildeffects of carbon monoxide are headaches, can cause confusion and ormemory loss while excessive inhalation of carbon monoxide can inducecardiac attack besides affecting the nervous system and can evencause death. Treatment of carbon dioxide symptoms must include a 100%administration of oxygen.
Itis important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning is one of themost common types of fatal poisoning happening in most of thecountries around the world. This could be attributed to itscharacteristics which include odorless and colorless thus making itdifficult to detect it. Most of the homes in America have beeninstalled with carbon dioxide detectors. It is however important tonote that most of the detectors are not very effective in detectingespecially small amounts of the gas. It is however important to makesure that one has installed carbon monoxide detectors in theirhouses. Historically, it is documented that people used to commitsuicide by exhaling fumes from the exhaust of a running car engine.Today, though the modern cars are fitted with combustions that areelectronically controlled and got catalytic converters, they stillproduce carbon monoxide levels that can be considered fatal. Most ofthe places in America have carbon monoxide detectors that arestandardized. They do not necessarily need to be placed at theceiling level unlike the smoke detectors.
Sulfurdioxide is a toxic gas that has a pungent irritating smell that isalso rotten and can be confused with bad eggs. It is naturallyreleased in the air by volcanic activity (Manahan, 2004). Primarily,the gas is produced for the manufacture of sulfuric acid. Sulfurdioxide has other uses such as preservative, winemaking, reducingagent, as a refrigerant and biochemical and bio medical roles. Sulfurdioxide is a noticeable gas in the atmosphere and more especiallythrough the volcanic activities. Due to its pungent smell, it is easyto notice the gas in the atmosphere (Linkin, 2007).
Itis important therefore to say that sulfur dioxide is a significantair pollutant that has important impacts on human health. Theconcentration of the gas in the atmosphere has also adverse effectsto the entire environment and mainly affects the plants and animals.The concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is also aprecursor to acid rain and also atmospheric particulates.
Inhalationof sulfur dioxide can be fatal since it causes respiratory symptoms,difficulty in breathing and also premature death (Manahan, 2004).Normally, it causes irritation, coughing, chest pains since it causesthe airways to narrow. People who are particularly asthmatic areconsidered more sensitive.
Thelargest production of sulfur dioxide is industrially produced forelectricity generation. Historically, sulfur dioxide was sourced fromthe coal. Sulfur dioxide is normally emitted through volcanicactivity in large quantities. In areas where such volcanic activitieshave been observed, people around the place are normally evacuated incases where high concentration of the gas has been noticed in theatmosphere. Those working in the industry are supposed to wear gasmasks and other protective clothing (Manahan, 2004).
Someof the products from the gas are very useful. The gas is used as arefrigerant it is also used as a preservative besides being used inwinemaking. The sulfuric gas produced through the gas is also usedboth for domestically and industrially. Sulfur dioxide is also usedas a reducing agent. It is therefore an important reducing agent thatcan be used to decolorize cloths and papers.
Sulfurdioxide is a precursor for acid rain (Manahan, 2004). Acid raincauses the lakes, streams, dams and rivers to be acidic. It alsocauses significant damage to trees and more so to those are at highelevations such as spruce trees and makes the soils to be acidic. Itis also important to note that acid rain causes the acceleration ofdecay in building materials, paints in structures, statues and otherimportant structures that are important heritage for the country(Manahan, 2004).
.Air pollutants are a cause of diseases to humans as well as toanimals and plants alike. In the case of carbon monoxide, it isimportant to make sure that the buildings are well ventilated besidesbeing fitted with carbon monoxide detectors. The automobiles shouldalso be fitted with electronically controlled combustions. Thecontrol of large release of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere shouldbe enhanced due to its harmful effects to the environment as it hasbeen discussed in this essay. People need also to be educated aboutthe effects of air pollution and air pollutants. Prior knowledgehelps the public to participate in the reduction of air pollutantsand thus protecting the environment. Disposal of toxic materials inthe environment should also be enhanced to prevent cause of diseasesto humans as well as to plants and animals.
Linkin,P. (2007).Minutes To Midnight. Podcastretrieved from,http://www.mtv.com/videos/linkin-park/141944/what-ive-done.jhtml
Manahan,SE. (2004).Environmental Chemistry,(Eighth Ed). CRC Press.