Week 3: Air Pollution Control


>>Hi everyone and welcome to our final lecture
video for this module. In this video, I’m going to talk
about air pollution control. And air pollution
control is really a result of all the bad effects,
things that happen to people, the killer smog episodes
that occurs. So after the bad happen, then people go okay
we need to fix this. So in order to do that — — there needs to be a risk
assessment for the air pollution or the air pollutants. You have to evaluate scientific
data and make predictions in an organized manner
about the probability of an occurrence meaning
the intrinsic health hazard of a substance and the amount
of the substance encountered. So, for example, you can
calculate the risk assessment of the amount of ozone in
the air between the hours of say 4 p.m. and 6
p.m. where you live. You can do this on
the EPA’s website, that’s the Environmental
Protection Agency. They can tell you
your air quality and you can actually determine
if it’s healthy for you to go outside during
that time frame. So the Clean Air Act
again was a result — began as a result
of the sulfurous — the killer smog episode
here in our country. And what happens,
the EPA set limits. And this was actually
modified many times but ultimately what you
see here is that from 1970 and this example’s from
2006 but you can see that carbon monoxide has dropped
significantly down to less — more than half of
what it used to be. And sulfur dioxide has also
dropped which is great for — that’s reducing our acid rain. And actually now acid rain
is not a big problem for us in the United States as it is
compared to other countries in this world because
of our Clean Air Act. And the volatile organic
compounds have also been reduced. Our nitrogen oxides and our
particulate matter specifically the 10 micrometer diameter. One has really reduced. You know we still — a lot
of critics still say we need to take into consideration
many other components of the pollution really
but this is a great start. And one of the other
legislations that actually has improved our
air quality is the catalytic converter requirement. So and that’s your smog check
basically but if you look at [inaudible] air in 1968,
it’s actually much more worse than it is — and this is a 2005
picture but currently even now, currently you know this is
an old picture but still. If you compare these two
pictures, it’s much worse here. And if you talk to old people — the people who used to
live here back in the day, they would describe that
you would go outside, your eyes would burn,
turn red, get teary eyes, sometimes you have a
hard time breathing, and you couldn’t see a sign
20 feet away, 15 feet away. And so actually a lot of
housewives went on the streets and started picketing and you
know, trying to say we need to change our air quality. We need to do something
about this and some scientists
actually got on board as well trying to change this. And one of the famous
ones is Jim Pitts. I actually worked with
him briefly at UC Irvine. And he was one of
the lead researchers on creating the catalytic
converter. And he would talk about how he
would actually get death threats in the mail and he
would get, you know, calls in the mail telling him
basically to stop research because it’s going to
cost industry a lot of money essentially
to make this change. And a catalytic converter is
basically your diamond ring of the car. It’s made out of platinum
and is oen of the main metals in the catalytic converter
but basically what happens, you bunr the fossil
fuel in your car and out of the exhaust comes
your hydro carbons, not volatile organic compounds, your carbon monoxide,
your nitrogen oxides. And it reacts with the platinum. It’s like a filter. And on the other side
you get out water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. So you get out all of the — basically what comes
out is things in the air that not necessarily
bad for you. Water and carbon dioxide and nitrogen are
naturally in the air anyway. And they’re not bad
for your health. The thing is that sustainable
good changes are seldom made electively, right? And it took a lot of people a
lot of work to make this happen. And ultimately, public policy
had to come into play here. It was not an elective decision. Car companies did not decide
all of a sudden we’re going to put this in all of
our cars on their own. People did not go out and
buy these all on their own. It had to be put in there
by law to make this happen. We did similar things
with industry. So here is smoke stacks which —
without any types of scrubbers and this is an electrostatic
precipitator. Just the thing you need to
know about it is it works like the [inaudible]
catalytic converter. Basically it filters out
the nasty stuff in the air. So this what it looks
like without. With, you know, still
burning stuff but a lot less toxins
are coming. Now keep in mind, the catalytic
converter and all of these types of scrubbers, they’re
not 100% efficient. So you’re still getting, you
know, air pollutants coming out. It’s just the quantity coming
out of your car or these, you know, refineries,
industries, whatever is much, much less. So part of what the EPA has
done is set attainments values. That’s basically, attainment
value is the amount maximum of the air pollutant you
should have in your area. And if you look at
these U.S. urban areas with the worst air quality, these are ozone non-attainment
meaning they did not get down to the safe amount
of ozone essentially. One of your extreme worst is Los
Angeles, South Coast Air Basin, very severe would be
Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, New York City, New Jersey,
Southeast desert of California. And severe would be Baltimore,
Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley,
and you see this here? Ventura County. We made it here, you
guys, here in CSUCI. We made it into the
worst air quality list. This is in 2002 but if you
actually go look it up, it — what really gives us the bad
air quality is not, thank God, Camarillo or [inaudible]
or [inaudible], all these regions
where we’re at. Hopefully just [inaudible]
for you guys and not in the worst areas are
Ojai and Simi Valley. And you can see why. The air gets blown in from the
ocean through this narrow pass and it gets up into
Ojai and it can’t escape out of those mountains. You know this little valley, all
these mountains surrounding it. And not only that but if
any of you have been to Ojai and Simi Valley,
they’re really hot. Hot places. Sunny and hot. They don’t have that fog that we
get in Camarillo from the beach. Here it’s just sunny and hot. Great places to grow vegetables
and fruit and all that but what do you need for
[inaudible] chemical smog? Heat, sunlight, and of course,
you know, exhaust from cars and chemicals in the air
which they get there. And to make it better you could
put it into a valley with, you know, an inversion layer. So these places is what actually
got us onto that top list. One last note before we end this
lecture is indoor pollutants. Don’t forget about that. We often only think about
what’s going on outside but actually your
pollutants can be five to 100 times greater
inside than outdoors. And keep in mind, people
also spend 70 to 98% of their time nowadays indoors and we get some pretty
bad air pollutants. You know, if you drive
your car into your garage and actually I’m so [inaudible]
about this at my house. I don’t let anyone
park in the garage because I’m a little
crazy about chemistry and [inaudible] chemistry. But you know you close the
door and you open up the door to the house and all
those nice, you know, exhausts go right
into your house. If you cook with a gas
stove, if you have glues all over your house which
we do nowadays, right? Particle board. You know, what’s this
other one called? It’s like particle board. Oh I’m blanking now. But you know, your cleaning
supplies which, you know, you might want to be careful. Think about cleaning with like
maybe vinegar, baking soda. Solvents — basically a lot of
the stuff that our house is made out of is constantly degassing
chemical compounds into the air and we’re breathing it and we get this thing
get a smoke stack effect. So essentially if you’re
on the second floor, all of that air is rising
up and so it often — the air pollution in the
second floor or third floor or fourth floor is worse than
it is in the first floor. So the moral of the
story is good to air out your house often. If it’s good weather,
just open the windows. Try to avoid using cleaning
supplies that, you know, or aerosols or anything
that could put chemicals into your air and
you breathe it in. All right. So that is the end
of our lecture on controlling air pollutants. I hope you enjoyed this section. Okay. Bye bye.

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