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Terms in this set (26)
The falling of acids and acid-forming compounds from the atmosphere to the earth's surface. Acid deposition is commonly known as acid rain, a term that refers only to wet deposition of droplets of acids and acid-forming compounds.
One or more chemicals in high enough concentrations in the air to harm humans, other animals, vegetation, or materials. Excess heat and noise are also considered forms of air pollution. Such chemicals or physical conditions are called air pollutants. See
A measure of the mass per unit area of air
Substance that can react with hydrogen ions in a solution and thus hold the acidity or pH of a solution fairly constant. See pH.
Carbon and oxygen compounds: carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, highly toxic gas that forms during the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless greenhouse gas that contributes heavily to global warming.
Type of air pollution consisting mostly of a mixture of sulfur dioxide, suspended droplets of sulfuric acid formed from some of the sulfur dioxide, and a variety of suspended solid particles. Compare photochemical smog.
nitric acid (HNO3)
.Formed when NO2 reacts with water vapor in the air. It is a component of acid deposition that returns to the earth and can damage trees, soils, and aquatic life in lakes.
nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) collectively. These gases play a role in photochemical smog and can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs; aggravate asthma and bronchitis; and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections by impairing the immune system. They can also suppress plant growth and reduce visibility when they are converted to nitric acid and nitrate salts.
Colorless and highly reactive gas; a major component of photochemical smog and also found in the stratosphere where it protects life by filtering out most harmful UV radiation from the sun.
Decrease in concentration of ozone (O3) in the stratosphere. See ozone layer.
Layer of gaseous ozone (O3) in the stratosphere that protects life on earth by filtering out most harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Peroxyacyl nitrates. Group of chemicals found in photochemical smog.
Solid particles and liquid droplets small and light enough to remain suspended in the air for short to long periods. Also referred to as suspended particulate matter (SPM).
Complex mixture of air pollutants produced in the lower atmosphere by the reaction of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides under the influence of sunlight. Especially harmful components include ozone, peroxyacyl nitrates (PANs), and various aldehydes. Compare industrial smog.
Chemical that has been added directly to the air by natural events or human activities and occurs in a harmful concentration. Compare secondary pollutant.
Naturally occurring colorless and odorless radioactive gas found in some types of soil and rock. It can seep into homes and buildings sitting above such deposits. Long-term exposure can cause lung cancer, especially among smokers.
Harmful chemical formed in the atmosphere when a primary air pollutant reacts with normal air components or other air pollutants. Compare primary pollutant.
Originally a combination of smoke and fog but now used to describe other mixtures of pollutants in the atmosphere. See industrial smog, photochemical smog.
Second layer of the atmosphere, extending about 17[[endash]]48 kilometers (11[[endash]]30 miles) above the earth's surface. It contains small amounts of gaseous ozone (O3), which filters out about 95% of the incoming harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. Compare troposphere.
sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Colorless gas with an irritating odor. About two-thirds (and as high as 90% in urban areas) comes from human sources, mostly combustion of sulfur-containing coal in electric power and industrial plants and from oil refining and smelting of sulfide ores.
sulfuric acid (H2SO4)
Formed in the atmosphere from sulfur dioxide. As microscopic suspended droplets, it is a component of acid deposition.
Layer of dense, cool air trapped under a layer of less dense, warm air. This prevents upward-flowing air currents from developing. In a prolonged inversion, air pollution in the trapped layer may build up to harmful levels. See radiation temperature inversion, subsidence temperature inversion.
volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Organic compounds that exist as gases in the air. Most are hydrocarbons.
Organic compounds made up of atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. An example is Freon-12 (CCl2F2), used as a refrigerant in refrigerators and air conditioners and in making plastics such as Styrofoam. Gaseous CFCs can deplete the ozone layer when they slowly rise into the stratosphere and their chlorine atoms react with ozone molecules.
global climate change
A broad term that refers to changes in the earth's climate mostly as a result of changes in temperature and precipitation.
Warming of the earth's atmosphere because of increases in the concentrations of one or more greenhouse gases primarily as a result of human activities. See greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases.
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