Earth Science

Human Impacts on the Earth

Reducing Air Pollution

Study Tip
Saving energy at home not only preserves resources, but also saves you and your family money in the long run.

Clean Air Act

  • In 1970, the United States passed the Clean Air Act, reducing the amount of pollutants in the air.
  • Although cars and factories individually release fewer pollutants into the air, the amount of pollutants in total have not decreased due to the growing number of cars and factories.
Study Tip
Saving energy at home not only preserves resources, but also saves you and your family money in the long run.

On the Road

  • Cars come equipped with catalytic converters, which breaks down pollutants before they are released into the atmosphere.
  • Hybrid vehicles utilize electric batteries and motors, increasing fuel efficiency while reducing pollutants.
  • A fuel cell in a vehicle converts chemical energy into electrical energy by creating reactions. However, fuel cells still require much more research in order to become practical.
Car
Hybrid vehicles supplement their car engines with electricity as well.

In the Industry

  • Pollutants can be filtered out of waste streams from factories and power plants before they are released into the air.
  • Using techniques such as scrubbing and electrical separation can aid in the process of breaking down harmful gasses and particles.
  • The process of gasification produces syngas (synthetic gas) from heating coal, which can be used to fuel clean coal plants. The usage of syngas, however, is clean yet energy inefficient.

At Home

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room, and replace incandescent bulbs with florescent bulbs.
  • Using alternative transportation such as carpooling, riding bikes, or using mass transit can help reduce our dependence on the types of energy that pollute the Earth.
  • Recycle substances like paper, plastic, metals, and organic materials, and use alternative energy sources such as wind or solar energy to power your home.
Concept Check
  • How do people pollute the environment from their home? Is it direct or indirect?
  • How can you reduce the amount of air pollution whenever you travel?