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ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

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ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY ( environmental-chemistry )

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408 (c) Hydrocarbons: Hydrocarbons are composed of hydrogen and carbon only and are formed by incomplete combustion of fuel used in automobiles. Hydrocarbons are carcinogenic, i.e., they cause cancer. They harm plants by causing ageing, breakdown of tissues and shedding of leaves, flowers and twigs. (d) Oxides of Carbon (i ) Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most serious air pollutants. It is a colourless and odourless gas, highly poisonous to living beings because of its ability to block the delivery of oxygen to the organs and tissues. It is produced as a result of incomplete combustion of carbon. Carbon monoxide is mainly released into the air by automobile exhaust. Other sources, which produce CO, involve incomplete combustion of coal, firewood, petrol, etc. The number of vehicles has been increasing over the years all over the world. Many vehicles are poorly maintained and several have inadequate pollution control equipments resulting in the release of greater amount of carbon monoxide and other polluting gases. Do you know why carbon monoxide is poisonous? It binds to haemoglobin to form carboxyhaemoglobin, which is about 300 times more stable than the oxygen-haemoglobin complex. In blood, when the concentration of carboxyhaemoglobin reaches about 3–4 per cent, the oxygen carrying capacity of blood is greatly reduced. This oxygen deficiency, results into headache, weak eyesight, nervousness and cardiovascular disorder. This is the reason why people are advised not to smoke. In pregnant women who have the habit of smoking the increased CO level in blood may induce premature birth, spontaneous abortions and deformed babies. (ii) Carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere by respiration, burning of fossil fuels for energy, and by decomposition of limestone during the manufacture of cement. It is also emitted during volcanic eruptions. Carbon dioxide gas is confined to troposphere only. Normally it forms about 0.03 per cent by volume of the CHEMISTRY atmosphere. With the increased use of fossil fuels, a large amount of carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere. Excess of CO2 in the air is removed by green plants and this maintains an appropriate level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Green plants require CO2 for photosynthesis and they, in turn, emit oxygen, thus maintaining the delicate balance. As you know, deforestation and burning of fossil fuel increases the CO2 level and disturb the balance in the atmosphere. The increased amount of CO2 in the air is mainly responsible for global warming. Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect About 75 % of the solar energy reaching the earth is absorbed by the earth’s surface, which increases its temperature. The rest of the heat radiates back to the atmosphere. Some of the heat is trapped by gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, chlorofluorocarbon compounds (CFCs) and water vapour in the atmosphere. Thus, they add to the heating of the atmosphere. This causes global warming. We all know that in cold places flowers, vegetables and fruits are grown in glass covered areas called greenhouse. Do you know that we humans also live in a greenhouse? Of course, we are not surrounded by glass but a blanket of air called the atmosphere, which has kept the temperature on earth constant for centuries. But it is now undergoing change, though slowly. Just as the glass in a greenhouse holds the sun’s warmth inside, atmosphere traps the sun’s heat near the earth’s surface and keeps it warm. This is called natural greenhouse effect because it maintains the temperature and makes the earth perfect for life. In a greenhouse, solar radiations pass through the transparent glass and heat up the soil and the plants. The warm soil and plants emit infrared radiations. Since glass is opaque to infrared radiations (thermal region), it partly reflects and partly absorbs these radiations. This mechanism keeps the energy of the sun trapped in the greenhouse. Similarly, carbon dioxide molecules also trap heat as they are transparent to sunlight but not to the heat radiation. If the amount of 2019-20

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