What is a brown cloud?

The brown haze suspended over cities such as Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Cairo, Egypt, is sometimes referred to as a "brown cloud."

What are pollution hot spots?

Levels of pollution are not consistent throughout polluted areas such as industrialized cities. For example, car emissions along freeways raise air pollutants significantly in adjacent areas, and air quality inside tunnels and parking garages is considerably worse because of limited ventilation. Other potential hot spots include areas, whether urban or rural, that lie downwind of factories and power plants.

What are the most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality?

The most severe air pollution can be found in the following cities: Cairo, Egypt; Delhi, India; Calcutta, India; Tianjin, China; Chongqing, China; Kanpur, India; Luc-know, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Shenyang, China.

What are some disturbing statistics regarding air pollution in Egypt?

The World Health Organization estimated that breathing the air in Cairo, Egypt, is the toxic equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes every day. Damage to the Egyptian economy as a result of pollution is also troubling, with the World Bank noting in

Cairo, Egypt, is one of the smoggiest cities on the planet.

Cairo, Egypt, is one of the smoggiest cities on the planet.

2002 that five percent of the country's gross domestic product (or about $2.42 billion U.S. dollars) are lost annually due to damages attributed to pollution.

How much air pollution does the United States produce?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is some good news in that air pollution has been slowly declining in the United States. For example, carbon monoxide emissions have gone down from 178 million tons (161.5 metric tons) in 1980 to 81 million tons (73.5 million metric tons) in 2007. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sulfur dioxide have both been cut in half (from 30 to 15 million tons [27.2 to 13.6 metric tons] for VOCs and 26 down to 13 million tons [23.6 to 11.8 metric tons] for SO2) over the same time period, and nitrogen oxides have been lowered from 27 to 17 million tons (24.5 to 15.4 metric tons). Overall, from 1980 to 2007, air pollutant rates have dropped from 267 million tons (242 metric tons) produced annually to 129 million tons (117 metric tons). This is still a lot of pollution, without question, but it is significant progress, especially considering that the U.S. population has risen from about 226 million people in 1980 to 300 million in 2007.

Why is air pollution in China such a huge problem?

In recent years, China has been experiencing an unprecedented economic and industrial boom. Cities are growing, manufacturing (with the exception of the onset of a worldwide recession in 2008) has been flourishing, and living standards are rising. This has been great news for many Chinese citizens, but it has come with a cost: a huge environmental problem. Although China has many environmental regulations on the books, it has had tremendous problems enforcing them. The result is that the country is probably the most polluted on the planet, with only India as a rival in this

What was the Donora Smog Disaster of 1948?

One of the most shameful chapters in environmental history occurred on October 30 and 31, 1948, in the industrial town of Donora in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The 14,000 residents were mostly supported by steel mills, which found the location by the Monongahela River just 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Pittsburgh to be ideal. The mills provided good-paying jobs, but the blast furnaces they used produced massive quantities of soot, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants. In addition, the town was home to a zinc smelting plant and a sulfuric acid plant. As if that weren't enough, the natural climate of the town made foggy weather a regular occurrence. The industry combined with the weather during a horrible Halloween season in 1948, creating such thick, brown air that it was nearly impossible to see where one was going. Five hundred of the residents fell ill from various respiratory problems and 22 people died (17 from complications from asthma or heart disease, and two from tuberculosis aggravated by the filthy air).

infamous area. The air quality in about two thirds of the cities is considered unhealthy for people, acid rain is damaging crops, and life expectancy rates are dropping because of pollution-related health issues. The Chinese government is not unaware of this shameful problem, and the country made news in 2008 when it hosted the Olympic Games. Heavy restrictions were placed on auto traffic and factories so that the air would be clear enough that the athletes would not be sickened by the smog.

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