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Water and Air Pollution

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Essay title: Water and Air Pollution

Abstract

Air and Water quality affects our health in many ways. For some of us, poor quality air is merely an irritant; for others, it contributes to a wide array of respiratory difficulties, including asthma. Some of the chemicals in the air can also lead to a higher incidence of lung cancer for others. Depending upon weather conditions, large parts of this Southern Alabama region can be subjected to poor quality air. Air and Water quality knows no city or state. For several years now the issue of water and air pollution in Joliet, Illinois has been at the forefront of resident’s minds. In particular is radium in the water table, acid rain, and dust from quarries and air pollution from the landfills. Are the levels high enough to harm? Is it just an instance of public panic? On and on go the questions we ask ourselves. Looking at topography and its relation to this area, I have researched the following information. (Slowik, 2001)

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Water and Air Pollution Comparison (Mobile, Al & Jolliet, Illinois)

A tree can settle out, trap, and hold pollutants on its leaves and bark. Trees are unsurpassed by any other plants in terms of the amount of surface area they can use for pollutant control - whether in the form of bark, leaves or needles. Other plants housed by a tree, such as lichens and mosses, are also able to absorb pollutants. If absorbed these pollutants are not washed to the ground. If the pollutants do enter the soil, they can be filtered before entering the waterways. Some trees (e.g., the plane tree, a cousin of the sycamore), are better able to survive in urban locales. Any pollutants the plain trees collect in its leaves or on its bark are shed as part of the tree's life cycle. Forests and trees filter rainwater and runoff (chemicals, sediment, and other pollutants) in many ways helping to ensure a cleaner water supply.

Within the wide industrial area we are polluting the air and water through emissions from oil refineries, steel mills, quarries and power plants such as coal, generator and nuclear. There are currently 733 facilities that produce and release air pollutants, 1317 which have reported hazardous waste activity, and 327 permits to discharge waste into the water. Within our agricultural area we are spraying pesticides and clearing trees and farmland to make way for housing and eliminating natural wind breaks and allowing the land to bake in the sun and water to run off into the sewer systems. The result of all these pollutants has led to the local water company sending radium warnings with our billing.

We also have three landfills in the area, totaling 64 acres. One is directly adjacent to the Illinois River and in 1989 the hazardous waste was found in above ground storage tanks, these have since been removed. In 1997 the owners of this same fill resurfaced and recontoured the site to address runoff into the river. Another of the landfills has been abandoned and there are leachate problems (leachate is the term used for the liquid produced by the action of “leaching” when water percolates through any permeable material other than through land filled wastes) and ponded water on top of the landfill, little if any vegetation and exposed garbage.

When trees that grow along shorelines and stream banks are conserved and managed as buffers, they can reduce the effects of adjacent, often harmful, land use activities. Trees and forests can serve as a last line of defense for a stream, lake or estuary. We call these riparian forest buffers. A riparian forest buffer can capture excessive nutrients and perform many other roles beneficial to water quality

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