Find the causes of air pollution!
Click on the landscape to find the causes of air pollution, but be careful, some are red herrings!
Correct! Weather and the Seasons
The weather has a big affect on air pollution. When it rains the pollution is washed out of the air. When it's windy, pollution is blown away and spreads out in the atmosphere. In sunny weather, Ozone is created as pollutants react with sunlight. If there is no wind to blow it away, Ozone can build up to dangerous levels and can even affect our breathing! When it's cold and icy, and not windy, cold air can get trapped under a layer of warmer air above it. When this happens, the air is very still and pollution can build up until it's very, very bad!
Correct!Towns and Cities
In the past, many factories were built in towns and cities like London, and gradually air pollution got worse. Nowadays, industries are built in the countryside to help keep air pollution in towns and cities at low levels. Today, the main source of air pollution in towns and cities is from road transport – cars, vans, lorries, buses and coaches. Often we find that air pollution in towns or cities is worse nearer the roads and better in more open areas away from traffic.
In recent years, the number of people flying has grown dramatically. Aeroplanes burn kerosene in their engines, which is like the petrol in your family car. This process releases pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particles.
Industries in the UK are a major source of Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen pollution. Both Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen can form acid rain in the atmosphere which causes damage to plants and buildings.
Correct! Power Generation
Power stations are the major source of Sulphur Dioxide pollution in the UK. Although located in the countryside, pollution can be carried into nearby cities and towns by the wind. Power stations are also a major source of Oxides of Nitrogen.
Correct! Road Transport
The number of vehicles on our roads is always increasing. In the UK we have 29 million road vehicles. Most cars in the UK run on petrol or diesel and so emit pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particles. These pollutants are all emitted close to the ground into the air that we breathe which leads to health problems especially when pollution is really bad.
Trains are a great way of getting to and from the airport, and taking the Heathrow Express train to the airport releases half as much carbon dioxide than driving there in your car. However, trains do pollute the environment; even electric trains can be said to pollute the environment because the electricity has to be generated at a power station and that is often done by burning coal, gas or oil.
Wrong! People walking
Wrong! Walking doesn’t cause air pollution. In fact, walking instead of driving a car can help save the environment, by cutting down on the fossil fuels burnt in car engines. Walking is also great for your health. Next time you’re leaving the house think about whether you can get to where you want to go by walking.
Wrong! Lakes don’t produce air pollution, but they can become polluted. When Nitrogen Oxides or Suphur Dioxide are released from the burning of fossil fuels, they can mix with clouds in the atmosphere, and fall as acid rain. In the 1980s, the UK was known as ‘the dirty old man of Europe’ because it was releasing so much sulphur dioxide from factories and power stations. This sulphur dioxide was falling as acid rain in Norway, and killing lots of fish that live in the lakes.
Parks and the countryside are full of plants and trees which help to absorb the extra Carbon Dioxide produced when we burn fossil fuels in our cars and power stations. This is because plants and trees use Carbon Dioxide to grow, and produce Oxygen as waste. This is great for us because we need Oxygen to breathe!