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Types of Air Pollution

The two types of air pollutants are primary, which are emitted from a source, and secondary, which are altered by exposure to sunlight.

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Credit: Aviator31
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clifftops4-7-07.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee are named for the fog that looks like smoke over the mountains. Lately, smog and acid rain, mostly imported from outside the region, have decreased air quality.

Why It Matters

  • The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S.
  • The range is also part of a biosphere preserve that protects old growth forest and a diverse ecosystem that includes black bears and salamanders.
  • The natural fog is the result of natural volatile organic compounds coming off the vegetation.
  • Air pollution and acid rain are causing tree deaths and other changes in the ecosystem.
  • Credit: Brian Stansberry
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old-black-fraser-firs-tn1.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Air pollution has contributed not only to the declining ecosystems (see these dead Fraser Firs), but also to the visibility levels in the national park (2008) [Figure2]

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With the links below, learn more about air quality in the Great Smoky Mountains. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Where are the pollutants that are degrading air qualities in the Smokys coming from?
  2. Which pollutants obscure the views in the national park and how much are they obscured?
  3. What are the effects of ground-level ozone pollution in the park?
  4. What is the effect of high nitrogen levels in the park?
  5. Why are the native brook trout called an indicator species for the Smokys?
  6. What is being done to limit pollution in to the park?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Aviator31; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clifftops4-7-07.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Brian Stansberry; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old-black-fraser-firs-tn1.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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