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For Clean Air - Glossary of pollution and environment
Category: Meteorology and astronomy > Glossary of pollution and environment
Date & country: 16/11/2010, US
Words: 128

The uptake of water, other fluids, or dissolved chemicals by a cell or an organism (as tree roots absorb dissolved nutrients in soil.)

Acid Deposition
A complex chemical and atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds and other substances are transformed by chemical processes in the atmosphere, often far from the original sources, and then deposited on earth in either wet or dry form. The wet forms, popularly called "acid rain," can fall to earth as rain, snow, or fog. The dry forms are acidic gases or pa...

Acid Rain
Air pollution produced when acid chemicals are incorporated into rain, snow, fog or mist. The "acid" in acid rain comes from sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, products of burning coal and other fuels and from certain industrial processes. The sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are related to two strong acids sulfuric acid and nitric acid. When sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released from...

Removal of a pollutant from air or water by collecting the pollutant on the surface of a solid material; e.g., an advanced method of treating waste in which activated carbon removes organic matter from waste-water.

1. Small droplets or particles suspended in the atmosphere, typically containing sulfur. They are usually emitted naturally (e.g. in volcanic eruptions) and as the result of anthropogenic (human) activities such as burning fossil fuels. 2. The pressurized gas used to propel substances out of a container.

In incinerator technology, a burner located so that the combustion gases are made to pass through its flame in order to remove smoke and odors. It may be attached to or be separated from the incinerator proper.

Agricultural Residue
Plant parts, primarily stalks and leaves, not removed from the fields with the primary food or fiber product. Examples include corn stover (stalks, leaves, husks, and cobs); wheat straw; and rice straw.

Air Pollutant
Any substance in air that could, in high enough concentration, harm man, other animals, vegetation, or material. Pollutants may include almost any natural or artificial composition of airborne matter capable of being airborne. They may be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, gases, or in combination thereof. Generally, they fall into two main groups (1) those emitted directly from iden...

Air Pollution
The presence of contaminants or pollutant substances in the air that interfere with human health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects.

Air Pollution Control Device
Mechanism or equipment that cleans emissions generated by a source (e.g. an incinerator, industrial smokestack, or an automobile exhaust system) by removing pollutants that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.

Air Quality Standards
The level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that are not being exceeded during a given time in a defined area.

Air Toxics
Any air pollutant for which a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) does not exist (i.e. excluding ozone, carbon monoxide, PM-10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide) that may reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer; respiratory, cardiovascular, or developmental effects; reproductive dysfunctions, neurological disorders, heritable gene mutations, or other serious or irreversible chronic or ac...

Airborne Particulates
Total suspended particulate matter found in the atmosphere as solid particles or liquid droplets. Chemical composition of particulates varies widely, depending on location and time of year. Sources of airborne particulates include dust, emissions from industrial processes, combustion products from the burning of wood and coal, combustion products associated with motor vehicle or non-road engine ex...

Alternative Fuels
Fuels that can replace ordinary gasoline, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), alcohols, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and electricity. Alternative fuels may have particularly desirable energy efficiency and pollution reduction features. The 1990 Clean Air Act encourages development and sale of alternative fuels.

Ambient Air
Any unconfined portion of the atmosphere open air, surrounding air.

Ambient Air Quality Standards
(See Air Quality Standards.)

Anaerobic Decomposition
Decomposition of cellulose and proteins occurring in the absence of oxygen, such as in landfill waste, producing methane and carbon dioxide. Anaerobic bioreactors increase the rate of methane generation, which can then be collected and used for energy recovery.

Area Source
Any source of air pollution that is released over a relatively small area but which cannot be classified as a point source. Such sources may include vehicles and other small engines, small businesses and household activities, or biogenic sources such as a forest that releases hydrocarbons. May be referred to as nonpoint source.

Attainment Area
A geographic area in which levels of a criteria air pollutant meet the health-based primary standard (national ambient air quality standard, or NAAQS) for the pollutant. An area may have on acceptable level for one criteria air pollutant, but may have unacceptable levels for others. Thus, an area could be both attainment and nonattainment at the same time. Attainment areas are defined using federa...

Baghouse Filter
Large fabric bag, usually made of glass fibers, used to eliminate intermediate and large (greater than PM20 in diameter) particles. This device operates like the bag of an electric vacuum cleaner, passing the air and smaller particles while entrapping the larger ones.

Substances that increase in concentration in living organisms as they take in contaminated air, water, or food because the substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.

Capture Efficiency
The fraction of organic vapors generated by a process that are directed to an abatement or recovery device.

Carbon Canister Vapor Capture
An automotive filter in which activated carbon has been placed so that gas tank fuel vapors, which have accumulated when the vehicle is not running, are trapped in the filter. When the engine is running, hot air is forced into the filter and pushes out the vapors into the engine. In this way pollution is reduced and fuel conservation is maintained.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)
A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas, produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gasoline, oil and wood. Carbon monoxide is also produced from incomplete combustion of many natural and synthetic products. For instance, cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. When carbon monoxide gets into the body, the carbon monoxide combines with chemicals in the blood and prevents the blo...

Cardiovascular Diseases
A group of diseases of the blood vessels that includes coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.

Catalytic Converter
An air pollution abatement device that removes pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, either by oxidizing them into carbon dioxide and water or reducing them to nitrogen.

Catalytic Incinerator
A control device that oxidizes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by using a catalyst to promote the combustion process. Catalytic incinerators require lower temperatures than conventional thermal incinerators, thus saving fuel and other costs.

Centrifugal Collector
A mechanical system using centrifugal force to remove aerosols from a gas stream or to remove water from sludge.

CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
Chemicals used in industry for refrigeration and air conditioning, and in consumer products. CFCs and their relatives, when released into the air, rise into the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere high above the Earth. In the stratosphere, CFCs and their relatives take part in chemical reactions which result in reduction of the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the Earth's surface fro...

Class I Area
Under the Clean Air Act, an area in which visibility is protected more stringently than under the national ambient air quality standards; includes national parks, wilderness areas, monuments, and other areas of special national and cultural significance.

Clean Air Act
Originally passed in 1963, although the 1970 version of the law is the basis of today`s U.S. national air pollution program. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments are the most far-reaching revisions of the 1970 law, and are usually referred to as the 1990 Clean Air Act.

Clean Fuels
Low-pollution fuels that can replace ordinary gasoline. These are alternative fuels, including gasohol (gasoline-alcohol mixtures), natural gas and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).

Burning of fuels such as coal, oil, gas, and wood. Many important pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates (PM-10) are combustion products.

The relative amount of a substance mixed with another substance. Examples are 5 ppm of carbon monoxide in air and 1 mg/l of iron in water.

Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water, or soil.

Criteria Air Pollutants
The 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act required EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for certain pollutants known to be hazardous to human health. EPA has identified and set standards to protect human health and welfare for six pollutants ozone, carbon monoxide, total suspended particulates, sulfur dioxide, lead, and nitrogen oxide. The term, "criteria pollutants" derives from the...

Curtailment Programs
Restrictions on operation of fireplaces and woodstoves in areas where these home heat sources make major contributions to pollution.

Cyclone Collector
A device that uses centrifugal force to remove large particles from polluted air.

Data Quality Objectives (DQOs)
Qualitative and quantitative statements of the overall level of uncertainty that a decision-maker will accept in results or decisions based on environmental data. They provide the statistical framework for planning and managing environmental data operations consistent with user's needs.

Any liquid or solid material used to dilute or carry an active ingredient.

Eight-Hour Ozone Standards
Since 1971, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established national air quality standards for ozone. Revised in 1997, the current national air quality standard for ozone is 0.08 parts per million (ppm), or 80 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over 8 hours. For a given geographic area to be in compliance, its fourth highest 8-hour concentration in a year, averaged over three years, ...

Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP)
A device that removes particles from a gas stream (smoke) after combustion occurs. The ESP imparts an electrical charge to the particles, causing them to adhere to metal plates inside the precipitator. Rapping on the plates causes the particles to fall into a hopper for disposal.

Release of pollutants into the air from a source. We say sources emit pollutants. Continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) are machines that some large sources are required to install, to make continuous measurements of pollutant release.

Emission Factor
The relationship between the amount of pollution produced and the amount of raw material processed. For example, an emission factor for a blast furnace making iron would be the number of pounds of particulates per ton of raw materials.

Emission Inventory
A listing, by source, of the amount of air pollutants discharged into the atmosphere of a community; used to establish emission standards.

The legal methods used to make polluters comply with air quality regulations. Enforcement methods include citations of polluters for violations of the law (citations are much like traffic tickets), fines and even jail terms. EPA and the state and local governments are responsible for enforcement of the Clean Air Act, but if they don't enforce the law, members of the public can sue EPA or the stat...

Enteric Fermentation
The natural digestive process in ruminant animals (e.g. cattle and sheep) that produces methane as a by-product.

The slow aging process during which a lake, estuary, or bay evolves into a bog or marsh and eventually disappears. During the later stages of eutrophication the water body is choked by abundant plant life due to higher levels of nutritive compounds such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Human activities can accelerate the process.

The amount of radiation or pollutant present in a given environment that represents a potential health threat to living organisms.

Fabric Filter
A cloth device that catches dust particles from industrial emissions.

Flow Rate
The rate, expressed in gallons -or liters-per-hour, at which a fluid escapes from a hole or fissure in a tank. Such measurements are also made of liquid waste, effluent, and surface water movement.

Flue Gas
The air coming out of a chimney after combustion in the burner it is venting. It can include nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, water vapor, sulfur oxides, particles and many chemical pollutants.

Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD)
A technology that employs a sorbent, usually lime or limestone, to remove sulfur dioxide from the gases produced by burning fossil fuels. Flue gas desulfurization is current state-of-the art technology for major SO2 emitters, like power plants.

Fossil Fuel
Fuel derived from ancient organic remains; e.g. peat, coal, crude oil, and natural gas.

Fuel Cell
An electrochemical engine (no moving parts) that converts the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant, such as oxygen, directly to electricity. The principal components of a fuel cell are catalytically activated electrodes for the fuel (anode) and the oxidant (cathode) and an electrolyte to conduct ions between the two electrodes.

Fugitive Emissions
Emissions not caught by a capture system.

Global Warming
An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Interg...

Grain Loading
The rate at which particles are emitted from a pollution source (i.e., number of grains per cubic foot of gas emitted).

Greenhouse Effect
The warming of the Earth's atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases. Some scientists think that this build-up allows the sun's rays to heat the Earth, while making the infra-red radiation atmosphere opaque to infra-red radiation, thereby preventing a counterbalancing loss of heat.

Greenhouse Gas
A gas, such as carbon dioxide or methane, which contributes to potential climate change.

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)
Chemicals that cause serious health and environmental effects. Health effects include cancer, birth defects, nervous system problems and death due to massive accidental releases such as occurred at the pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. HAPs are released by sources such as chemical plants, dry cleaners, printing plants, and motor vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, etc.)

Hydrocarbons (HC)
Chemical compounds that consist entirely of carbon and hydrogen.

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
Gas emitted during organic decomposition. Also a by-product of oil refining and burning. Smells like rotten eggs and, in heavy concentration, can kill or cause illness.

A treatment technology involving destruction of waste by controlled burning at high temperatures; e.g., burning sludge to remove the water and reduce the remaining residues to a safe, non-burnable ash that can be disposed of safely on land, in some waters, or in underground locations.

Inhalable Particles
All dust capable of entering the human respiratory tract.

International Air Pollution
Pollution that moves across national borders. The 1990 Clean Air Act includes provisions for cooperative efforts to reduce pollution that originates in one North American country and affects another.

Interstate Air Pollution
Pollution that moves across state borders. Because often, air pollution moves out of the state in which it is produced into another state, the 1990 Clean Air Act includes many provisions, such as interstate compacts, to help states work together to protect the air they share.

A substance that causes irritation of the skin, eyes, or respiratory system. Effects may be acute from a single high-level exposure, or chronic from repeated low-level exposures to such compounds as chlorine, nitrogen dioxide, and nitric acid.

More than one sample point exhibiting the same isolated concentration.

Kyoto Protocol
An international agreement adopted in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The Protocol sets binding emission targets for developed countries that would reduce their emissions on average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

Lead (Pb)
A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations.

Low NOx Burners
One of several combustion technologies used to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Product safety information sheets prepared by manufacturers and marketers of products containing toxic chemicals. These sheets can be obtained by requesting them from the manufacturer or marketer. Some stores, such as hardware stores, may have material safety data sheets on hand for products they sell.

Specific environments--air, water, soil--which are the subject of regulatory concern and activities.

Mercury (Hg)
Heavy metal that can accumulate in the environment and is highly toxic if breathed or swallowed.

A colorless, nonpoisonous, flammable gas created by anaerobic decomposition of organic compounds. A major component of natural gas used in the home.

Mobile Sources
Moving objects that release pollution; mobile sources include cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains, motorcycles and gasoline-powered lawn mowers. Mobile sources are divided into two groups on-road vehicles, which include cars, trucks and buses, and nonroad vehicles, which includes trains, planes, lawn mowers, and some portable equipment.

Monitoring (monitor)
Measurement of the types and amounts of air pollution. The 1990 Clean Air Act requires states to monitor community air in polluted areas to check on whether the areas are being cleaned up according to schedules set out in the law. Also, the 1990 Clean Air Act requires certain large polluters to perform enhanced monitoring to provide an accurate picture of their pollutant releases such as keeping d...

Neurological Disorders
Disorders of the central nervous system (brain, brainstem and cerebellum), the peripheral nervous system (including cranial nerves), and the autonomic nervous system (parts of which are located in both central and peripheral nervous system). Major conditions include, headache; dementia, including Alzheimer`s disease; seizures and epilepsy; sleep disorders; infections; movement disorders such as Pa...

New Source Review (NSR)
A program used in development of permits for new or modified industrial facilities which are in a nonattainment area, and which emit criteria air pollutants. The two major requirements of NSR are Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and emission offset.

Nitric Oxide (NO)
A gas formed by combustion under high temperature and high pressure in an internal combustion engine. NO is converted by sunlight and photochemical processes in ambient air to nitrogen oxide. NO is a precursor of ground-level ozone pollution, or smog.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
The result of nitric oxide combining with oxygen in the atmosphere; major component of photochemical smog.

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
A criteria air pollutant. Nitrogen oxides are produced from burning fuels, including gasoline and coal. Nitrogen oxides are smog formers, which react with volatile organic compounds to form smog. Nitrogen oxides are also major components of acid rain.

Non-Methane Hydrocarbon (NMHC)
The sum of all hydrocarbon air pollutants, excluding methane; significant precursors to ozone formation.

Non-Methane Organic Gases (NMOG)
The sum of all organic air pollutants, excluding methane. NMOG account for aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, and other pollutants that are not hydrocarbons but are precursors of ozone.

Non-Point Source
Diffuse pollution source (i.e. without a single point of origin or not introduced into a receiving stream from a specific outlet). The pollutants are generally carried off the land by storm water. Common nonpoint sources are agriculture, forestry, urban, mining, construction, dams, channels, land disposal, saltwater intrusion, and city streets. May be referred to as area source.

Non-Road Emissions
Pollutants emitted by combustion engines on farm and construction equipment, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, powerboats, outboard motors, and some portable equipment.

Nonattainment Area
A geographic area in which the level of a criteria air pollutant is higher than the level allowed by the federal standards. A single geographic area may have acceptable levels of one criteria air pollutant but unacceptable levels of one or more other criteria air pollutants; thus, an area can be both attainment and nonattainment at the same time. It has been estimated that 60% of Americans live in...

A method used in the 1990 Clean Air Act to give companies which own or operate large (major) source in a nonattainment area flexibility in meeting overall pollution reduction requirements when changing production processes. If the owner or operator of the source wishes to increase release of a criteria air pollutant, an offset (reduction of a somewhat greater amount of the same pollutant) must be ...

The amount of light obscured by particulate pollution in the air; clear window glass has zero opacity, a brick wall is 100 percent opaque. Opacity is an indicator of changes in performance of particulate control systems.

Organic Chemicals/Compounds
Naturally occurring (animal or plant-produced or synthetic) substances containing mainly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

A collective term for some of the primary constituents of photochemical smog.

Oxygenated Fuel (oxyfuel)
A special type of gasoline, which burns more completely than regular gasoline in cold start conditions; more complete burning results in reduced production of carbon monoxide, a criteria air pollutant. In some parts of the country, where carbon monoxide release from cars starting up in cold weather makes a major contribution to pollution, gasoline refiners must market oxygenated fuels, which conta...

A gas that is a variety of oxygen. The oxygen gas found in the air consists of two oxygen atoms stuck together; this is molecular oxygen. Ozone consists of three oxygen atoms stuck together (O3) into an ozone molecule. Ozone occurs in nature; it produces the sharp smell you notice near a lightning strike. High concentrations of ozone gas are found in a layer of the atmosphere -

Ozone Hole
Thin place in the ozone layer located in the stratosphere high above the Earth. Stratospheric ozone thinning has been linked to destruction of stratospheric ozone by CFCs and related chemicals. The 1990 Clean Air Act has provisions to reduce and eliminate ozone destroying chemicals' production and use. Ozone holes have been found above Antarctica and above Canada and northern parts of the United ...

A document that resembles a license, required by the Clean Air Act for big (major) sources of air pollution, such as power plants, chemical factories and, in some cases, smaller polluters. Usually permits will be given out by states, but if EPA has disap

Permit Fees
Fees paid by businesses required to have a permit. Permit fees are like the fees drivers pay to register their cars. The money from permit fees will help pay for state air pollution control activities.

Photochemical Oxidants or Smog
Air pollutants formed by the action of sunlight on oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons.

PM10 is measure of particles in the atmosphere with a diameter of less than 10 or equal to a nominal 10 micrometers. PM2.5 is a measure of smaller particles in the air.

Point Source
A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution; e.g. a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, factory smokestack.