Subject: Causes of Air Pollution

What is the cause of most air pollution?

    Well, as you are probably aware, air pollution takes many different forms and arises from a variety of sources. In terms of overall range and extents of impacts, however, it is my opinion that burning of fossil fuels (coal, gasoline, etc..) is the single largest source of air pollutants. These fuels cause smog, acid rain, soot and particulates increases, greenhouse gas emissions, and dispersal of some heavy metal contaminants.
    Fossil fuels are widely used for heating, transportaion, electricity generation, manufacturing and other industries. Thus, they are used pervasively in our society and their use is difficult (but not impossible) to curtail. Also, various measures can be taken to help make fossil fuel buring both cleaner and more efficiently but this comes at some monetary cost. Until we find cleaner alternatives to the present fossil fuels buring methods, most air pollutants plaguing the world today will continue to be a problem in the future.

Dr. Ken Rubin, Assistant Professor
Department of Geology and Geophysics
University of Hawaii, Honolulu HI 96822

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