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What causes air pollution?
Is there a formula that can explain it?
What might be a source of the problem?
Do you think the United States is doing enough to protect our environment from air pollution?

Air pollution has many causes. Ronald Reagan once remarked that trees cause air pollution. While it is true that trees cause oxygen to be released into the air, I do not think that fits the definition of pollution as "a resource out of place." When we speak of air pollution , we mean gasses and dust in the atmosphere that do not occur naturally, so this definition narrows the source down to human activity. Many gasses that we consider to be pollution such as the carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide that are released by burning fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) also have natural sources, like volcanoes and forest fires. Pollution of human origin is a problem because it adds more gasses to the ecosystem than it has accumulated due to natural processes for billions of years.

Chemists have many formulas to explain how oil gets turned into carbon dioxide and water, for example, or other important chemical reactions in the atmosphere such as ozone formation and depletion. Our government has been trying to control air pollution with the Clean Air Act (ask your Congressional Representative for more information), and by working with other governments to keep pollution to a minimum. We cannot completely eliminate the problem because we need transportation and electricity to live the modern way, but we can try to limit the amount of pollution to a level that does not cause health problems.


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