A Report on Air Pollution

According to a government report which was commented on by the Daily Telegraph (Sydney) in March Sydney’s air pollution is nearly ten times worse than in any other city in Australia. Investigations conducted by the newspaper suggest that last summers air pollution figures were the worst for Sydney in recent years. It has been estimated that motor vehicle emissions alone cost Sydney around 1.2 billion $ per year due to health care costs caused by air pollutants. The nature of the issue Global warming is a big issue nowadays. This takes place due to air pollution. Motor vehicles produce gases that contribute to the so called greenhouse effect. 

Greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere trapping heat radiated from the earth surface increases in the amount of these gases due to air pollution has great impact on the atmosphere and our environment due to a change in climate and rainfall. On top of that air pollutants have bad effects on human health. It should be our own interest to reduce motor vehicle emissions/ air pollution in order to live in a clean environment. Air pollution is the amount of impurities in the air. If these pollutants are toxic they become a serious problem. They can have an unpleasant odour, reduce visibility and irritate the senses. In the worst case they can cause death. They are a hazard to human, plant or animal health. Especially elderly or weak people are affected. The main sources of air pollution in Sydney are the burning of fossil fuel for transport (e.g. cars), power generation and industrial production. When burning fuel cars and other motor vehicles produce toxic gases which pollute the environment. The main gases produced in the process are: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide. The average passenger vehicle emits about four tonnes of carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) each year. 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere for every litre of petrol used. 

Concerns from the main pollutants:

  • CARBON MONOXIDE: It combines with haemoglobin in the bloodstream and reduces oxygen delivery to organs and tissues.It can inhibit mental alertness and concentration. Most serious threat is for people with cardiovascular disease. 
  • NITROGEN DIOXIDE: comes from motor vehicles and industry such as power plants. Short-term exposure can increase respiratory illness particularly for children as asthmatics. 
  • OZONE: In the stratosphere this gas protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.At ground level it adversely affects various parts of the respiratory system.
  • SULPHUR DIOXIDE: The main sources are power plants, refineries and smelters. It irritates eyes, nose and throat.
  • LEAD: Before 2001, leaded petrol was the main source of emissions, other than industry such as smelting. It can accumulate in the body, affecting development of young children.
  • PARTICLES: Wood Heaters, motor vehicles, controlled burns and some industry contribute. 

Larger particles can aggravate asthma. Although the number of cars driving in Sydney is still increasing and people travel longer distances the pollution caused is decreasing. This is because of regulations for cars and industries concerning emissions. In addition to that newer cars with better emission standards replace older ones. The impact of the issue immediate effects on humans Sydney Bureau of Transport and Economics reveals that pollution caused by motor vehicles might be responsible for killing up to 2000 Australians every year and causing more than 2000 asthma attacks. The damage to health cost Sydney app $1.2 billion last year. The Sydney Morning Herald states in an article that children are particularly vulnerable because they inhale more air for their body weight than adults, but the elderly and the sick are also at risk.Impact on our environmentMotor vehicle emissions have great impact on the environment. 

As I said the greenhouse effect - caused and enhanced by vehicle emissions Đ25,†has great impact on the atmosphere. The heat which comes from the sun and is radiated by the earthsurface is trapped by a thick layer of gases. Up to a certain amount these gases occur in nature. The main greenhouse gas found in nature is carbon dioxide. Vehicle emissions add up to this amount. That is why the earth is heating up causing the ice caps to melt for example.Europe is facing a record breaking dry summer this year. In Hamburg, Germany where I come from the highest temperatures in summer is normally about 35°C. this occurs about every 3 weeks once in summer. This year it has been incredibly hot all summer. It didn’t rain for more than two weeks in a row and temperatures stayed at around 35°C. This development concerns me because it has been a steady development over years now. The earth is definitely heating up. It is very likely that the greenhouse effect is responsible for this. In addition to that the ozone layer is damaged. 

Ozone in the upper atmosphere protects life on earth by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun. UV radiation is linked to skin cancer, genetic damage and immune system suppression as well as reduced productivity in agricultural crops. There used to be an ozone depleting substance in car air conditionings which is now prohibited in Australia. The gases which replace this substance nowadays have a greenhouse effect instead. These are also motor vehicle emissions which have to be considered. The response of individuals, society and the government to the issue Government:The government of NSW is constantly trying to reduce air pollution in Sydney. They do this in various ways - due to education for example. That is why I am sitting at this assignment. The government provides information. They want young citizens (although I am not) to think about these kind of issues in order to develop an understanding of how serious these are. Hopefully it will make people act in a more responsible way concerning our environment. Various government web pages provide information about all kinds of environmental issues not only air pollution. 

Special days like the walk to work day, Noe are organized throughout the year in order to make people more aware of air pollution and the damage motor vehicle emissions cause. Government-run facilities being established like the Bureau of Transport and Economics which I have mentioned before or the EPA.The list continues over television announcements and newspapers articles - by coverage of the topic in different types of media. The government has no direct influence on media as most newspapers etc are independent. (I hope they do not!) The government can still make sure that these kinds of topics are covered in the news by releasing reports etc which were conducted by their offices. On the other hand we have Sydney  poor system of public transport. In order to reduce the number of motor vehicles in the streets the public transport system would have to improve. But this goal is very expensive to achieve. In addition to that motor vehicles of different types have to fulfil certain licensing requirements and obligations nowadays. Restrictions are made on the petrol as well. 

Groups:There are various groups in NSW and Sydney which have been founded in order to increase the public awareness of air pollution.Environmentalists try to provide additional information and advice for individuals. There are various approaches. Some groups might provide you with advice on how to make your own car more environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of petrol used for example. This can be achieved by something as easy as changing your driving style to a smoother driving or by simply maintaining your car regularly. Other groups might encourage you to walk or use your bike in the first place. Individuals: Most people know that air pollution has serious effects on their own health and their environment. 

They are aware of the fact that motor vehicle emissions are toxic and contribute to the greenhouse effect as well as they damage the ozone layer. But only a few people seem to actually care about that. No one really feels responsible to take serious actions as everybody is waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Including me I will have to admit.In fact everybody can help and contribute to the solving of the problem. It is not a big deal to use public transport instead of your own car or to walk for a few minutes. You also help yourself by doing it as you will stay fit.It sounds easy in theory but it also means giving up a little of your living standard. Everybody agrees that some steps have to be taken but in the end they are all just pointing at other people. Case Studyl will concentrate on a case study conducted by the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW).The case study deals with air quality monitoring of the Sydney region. It shows that Sydney's major challenge to good air quality is the use of motor vehicles to fulfil transportation needs.Emissions from motor vehicles represent in the area of Sydney: almost 80% of oxides of nitrogen and nearly 90% of carbon monoxide annually emitted in the air shed. This shows that domestic and industrial sources of pollutants are less significant for air pollution than motor vehicle emissions. The following graph shows the concentration of different pollutants in the Sydney Basin compared to a standard figure in other regions of Australia.