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Environmental Quality: Key Terms

Environ Sink: repository of potentially damaging

by-products of human activities.
Land Assimilative Capacity:
Carbon Sequestration:
Natural Capital: susceptible to res degradation
and pollution.
Pollution: results from the exhustion of env
Environmental Quality: Key Terms
Stock Pollutants: for which the env has no
absorption capacity.
Fund Pollutants: for which the env has
some absorption capacity.
Flow Pollutants: disipate into env sinks
with relative ease, although they can
initially be damaging (e.g. light, noise,
heat, biodegradables).
Pollutants & their Origins
Natural Pollutants: harmful pollutants from
the earth and its creatures.
Anthropogenic Pollutants:
Mobil source
Stationary source
Point source
Area source
Environmental Quality: Key Terms
Uniformly Distributed Pollutants
(greenhouse gases)
Concentrated pollutants (damage
concentrated within local area)
Hot spots: high level concentration
Non-uniformly Distributed Pollutants: some
harm elsewhere with relatively large effect
in local area.
Subject to both
Natural influence (gaseous emission, volcanic
ash, methane from termites, other living
Anthropogenic influence (auto exhaust, power
generation, manufacturing).

Anthropogenic influences
More readily controllable by existing tech
Focus of this chapter
Air Quality: National Ambient Air
Quality Standards (NAAQS)
Clean Air Act of 1970 established standards for
6 criteria air pollutants considered harmful to
public health, welfare or the env. (Table 6.1)
Primary standards: to protect public health (includes
children, elderly, asthmatics, etc)
Secondary standards: to protect public welfare, which
is diminished by damage to plants, animals, bldg, and
agriculture, and by reduced visibility (Table 6.2).
Air Quality: Criteria Pollutants
Particulate Matter (PM10, PM2.5)
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Ozone (O3)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Lead (Pb) toxic heavy metal
Air Quality: Clean Air Act
Amendment 1990
Added 189 hazardous air pollutants aka
toxic air pollutants or air toxics.
They are known or suspected to cause
serious health problems.
Air Quality: Actual Levels
>4000 monitoring stations across country
measure poll concentration on
States submit air monitor data monthly to
EPA database.
EPA updates areas and popn in non-compliant areas
Kuwait EPA maintains similar record
Air Quality: Actual Levels &
2:1 offset sanction require firms to secure (via poll
control eq or tradable poll permits) emission reduction =
twice the emission created by any new or expanded
This will reduce emission by twice the amount created by
new facilities and so total emission will fall to level closer
to the desired standards.
1:1 will maintain the current level of poll.
EPA: issued 858 intent to apply sanctions (18 months
after notice), sanctions were applied only 18 times.
Important Criteria: do sanctions provide sufficient econ
incentives for pollutants to act efficiently.
Air Quality: Kuwait
Kuwait: the highest per capita CO2 emitter
(Guinness World Records for 2011)
Why is it a problem?
health problems (respiratory diseases). CO2 is
toxic in higher concentrations: 1% (10,000
ppm) will make some people feel drowsy. 7%
to 10% concentrations causes dizziness,
headache, visual and hearing dysfunction and
unconsciousness within a few min to an hour.
global warming: some damages are irreversible
(melting of ice caps, rising sea level). Cost?
Air Quality: Global CO2
Contribute to global warming
The upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2
is 350 ppm.
Atmospheric CO2 levels have stayed
higher than 350 ppm since early 1988.
In 2011, atmospheric CO2 reached 393.69
Air Quality: Global CO2
Air Quality: Kuwait Emission
Number of automobiles: 1,293,308 cars
were registered by the Ministry of Interior
in 2007.
60,082 were added in 2008 (total of 1,353,390,
or roughly 0.5 car/capita ~ among the highest).
1,088,801 private cars
9,450 taxis
51,018 transportation vehicles, and
29,665 vehicles
Air Quality: Kuwait Emission
Air Quality: CO2 Emission
Hourly atmospheric CO2 concentration data are available
from 1996 to present for a suburban site within the
growing metropolitan area of Kuwait City.
An analysis of this records indicates:
annual cycle: highest values in February and lowest in
September, reflecting the growth and decay of vegetation in the
Northern Hemisphere as well as fluctuations in motor traffic.
weekly cycle: highest values during the weekdays and lowest
values during weekends (rush hours in the weekdays).
During the daytime, CO2 concentrations are related to wind
direction, with westerly winds (coming from the desert)
promoting lowest CO2 concentrations. At night, lowest CO2
levels are associated with higher wind speeds and winds from
the north.
Air Quality: CO2 Emission
Air Quality: CO2 Emission
1. solid fuels: primarily, but not exclusively, from burning
2. liquid fuel: primarily, but not exclusively, from burning of
petroleum products.
3. gaseous fuels: primarily, but not exclusively, from
burning of natural gas.
4. gas flaring: result from the burning of gas released in
the process of petroleum extraction.
5. cement manufacturing are produced as cement is
calcined to produce calcium oxide (approximately 0.5
metric tons of carbon is released for each metric ton of
cement produced).
Air Quality: CO2 Emission
Air Quality: Acid Deposition
Acidity is measured on a pH scale (lower numbers mean
higher acidity).
Wet Acid Deposition (aka acid rain) occurs when
rainwater, fog, or snow has a pH level lower than 5.
Pure water pH = 7.0
Rain has slight natural acidity caused by atmospheric
CO2, giving it a pH level = 5.5.
Rain in U.S. pH = 4.3.
Air Quality: Acid Rain
Acid rain is deadly for forest, aquaculture
and humans.
Ability of trees to absorb nutrients depends
on soil acidity. Increases in acidity can
starve trees and other vegetations.
It damaging to auto and bldgs.
Acid releases metals such as copper,
alum and mercury stored in rocks and
Air Quality: Causes of Acid Rain
Primarily caused by SO2 which dissolve in water to form
sulfuric acid (H2S.O4).
Various NOx (NO2, NO3) and hydrochloric acid are
contributing factors.
Largest controllable sources of SO2 and NOx: coal-fired
power plants, industry and road transportation.
As low-sulfur coal supplies are depleted, power companies
turn to coal with as high as 10 times the sulfur.
Scrubbers that remove SO2 & NOx cost $100s of millions.
Innovative markets of tradable pollution allowances
(permits) has reduced annual SOx emissions in the US by
about 10 m tons.
Air Quality: Transboundary Aspects of
Acid Rain
Effects and damages can occur great distance from the
causal sources of air pollution (e.g. lifeless trees and
lakes in Canada and Norway have been attributed to
SO2 emission in the U.S. and Central Europe).
Environment Canada reports that U.S. emits 6 times as
much SO2 as Canada and that 95,000 lakes remained
damaged by acid rain even after control programs were
fully implemented in 2010.
EPA reported annual health benefits of reduced SO2
emissions as of 2010 (decrease mortality, hospital
admission, and emergency room visits) from Acid Rain
Program to $50 billion.
Global Climate Change
Pollution contributes to collections of greenhouse gases that
hold heat w/n Earths atmosphere and keep it about 33C
(59F). Warmer than it would otherwise be.
Atmospheric concentrations of the most prevalent greenhouse
gases (CO2) has risen by nearly 30% since the industrial revolution.
Methane concentrations has more than doubled.
NOx has risen by about 15%.
These increases, among other human and natural trends,
may be to blame for the reported 0.5C to 1C increase in
global temp over the past century. This Warming trend has
already caused:
powerful hurricanes (cyclones)
Thinning of ice over Arctic ocean
More frequent extreme rainfall (Kuwait 2008)
4-8 inch increase in sea level over the past century.
Warmer oceans fuel Hurricane Katrina: $100 billion damages in 2005.
Warmer oceans fuel tropical cyclone like Nargis: killed >138,000 in Burma 2008.
Water Quality
Surface water: open to the Earth atmosphere (rivers,
lakes oceans, streams) covers 70% of the planet.
Groundwater: fresh water primarily in aquifers beneath
the surface.
>95% of worlds water supply is salt water.
Groundwater, ice caps, and glaciers make up almost all
of the fresh water.
Fresh surface water makes up only 0.01% of total water
None of these sources are impervious to pollution.
Water Quality
Americans consume 100 billion gallons of fresh water per day.
Kuwait consumes XXX per day.
Human body is 60% water.
Estimates of the value of water quality to humans (Table 6.4).
EPA estimates $44 billion spent on 910 million annual trips to
coastal areas and 35 million adults pursue sport of fishing.
Losses from oil spills provide striking examples of cost of polluted
water (Exxon Valdez $4.3 billion)
Oil Pollution Act of 1990: double hulls vessels in US water by year
Intl Convention for the Prevention of Poll from Ships (MARPOL)
requires double hull tanker (modified w/n 30 years of construction).
Polluted water: death and disease among humans and wildlife.
Threats to Water Quality
Unlike air, anything can be spilled or dumped into water.
Non-point source pollution is the leading cause.
the Clean Water Act requires states to conduct biennial
water quality inventories.
See top of page 138 for data.
Excessive nutrients, metals (mercury), bacteria, siltation,
oxygen-depleting substances, and pesticides were
among the leading pollutants.
EPA Water Quality Standards
EPA set standards for over a hundred pollutants
Measures condition and vulnerability with the Index of
Watershed Indicators (IWI).
IWI consist of 18 indicators
Examples of conditions indicators include:
ambient water quality,
Fish & wildlife consumption advisories,
Wetland losses
On the basis of these indicators, EPA assigns a score to
each watershed and places it into a descriptive category,
see Fig 6.3.
% of Water Impaired in Each Watershed
Water Quality Standards
Under Clean Water Act, states face sanctions for failing to restore impaired
water bodies.
States delegates standard setting, implementations and enforcements to
branches of local gov or designated Conservation Districts.
Standards are applied by an overlapping set of general discharge
prohibitions, ag laws, forestry laws, fish and game laws, nuisance
prohibitions, land-use planning and regulatory laws, and criminal laws.
The General Discharge Prohibition: either requires to release designated
substances or prohibit emissions that cause quality levels to violate
established standards.
The requirement of a Discharge Prohibition removes the need to demo any
causal link between pollution & the violators behavior, and thereby lessens
the need of enforcement.
Polluters are asked to file for a permit, identifying themselves and subjecting
themselves to inspection.
Polluters who do not obtain permits face sanctions upon discovery,
regardless of any demonstrable association between their release and
subsequent damage.
Noise & Light Pollution
Problems on Terra Firm (Latin for solid ground)
Flow pollutants, because they do not build in the env even so, they
can cause considerable damage.
Excessive noise lead to permanent hearing loss, emotional distress,
other pathophysiologic effects.
Detrimental effects also extends to wildlife (hinders growth and
increase prob of death by predation).
Problems Under Sea:
noise from oil explo, tankers, military sonars, explosive, dredging.
Common property aspects complicate the solution.
Problems in the Sky
Light spills into atmosphere (waste of energy) causing to wildlife
(render habitat uninhabitable).
Standards: Noise Control Act of 1972, reg major source of noise (e.g.
interstate noise).
CO2 Emission: Market Solution
Is free market trade the solution?
Perhaps appealing to profit motive to solve the problem could be an
essential element.
There are signs that markets are developing across the globe (Australia
passed landmark legislation instituting a carbon tax on Nov 9, 2011).
Carbon hunting: anything that qualify as carbon credit. It could be the way of
the future (the American Dream = the gold rush).
Carbon Offset companies (reduce emission) are propping up in parts of the
world (pedal pumps instead of diesel-powered pumps in India). This similar
to paying someone to reduce CO2 just like you pay someone to pickup your
Some market ideas include geo-engineering solutions like dumping urea
(fertilizer) in the ocean to grow algae to sequester carbon. Drawback is
change in the ocean chemistry.
This could be dangerous and solutions should focus on changing behavior
rather that change nature.