Environmental Science Final

primary pollutants
pollutants released in harmful form; cause damage right away
secondary pollutants
pollutants that are harmful after reaction in air; photochemical oxidants and acids
fugitive emissions
do not go through a smokestack; train wreck or something similar
unconventional pollutants
compounds produced in less volume than conventional pollutants, but are especially toxic or hazardous
aesthetic degradation
reduce quality of life; noise, odor, light
toxic metals and halogens
chemical elements that are toxic when concentrated and released in the environment
in high concentrations can cause chemical burns and severe respiratory problems
long-range transport
fine aerosols can be carried great distances by wind
circumpolar vortex
isolates Antarctic air and allows stratospheric temperatures to drop and create ice crystals at high altitudes; absorb ozone and chlorine molecules; when sun returns in the spring, energy liberates the chlorine, which bonds with ozone, allowing the depletion process to proceed rapidly
temperature inversions
cool, dense air trapped below a warmer, lighter air mass; pollutants cannot disperse and thus increase in concentration
heat islands
temperature in cities warmer than surrounding areas
dust domes
tall buildings create updrafts
chemical pollutants
can directly damage plants, or can cause indirect damage by disrupting normal growth and development patterns
acid precipitation
deposition of wet, acidic solutions or dry, acidic particles from the air
clean, not very buffered, doesn’t have many nutrients; clear mountain stream; doesn’t take much to pollute it
Clean Air Act (1963)
first national air pollution act
Clean Air Act (1970)
rewrote original act; identified critical pollutants; established ambient air quality standards
primary standards
human health
secondary standards
materials, environment, aesthetic and comfort
hydrologic cycle
describes the circulation of water as it evaporates from land, water and organisms, transpires from plants, enters the atmosphere, condenses and precipitates back to earth’s surfaces, moves underground by infiltration or overland into rivers, lakes and seas
Oceans and saline lakes

6% of all water

Fresh water
2.4% of all water
ice and snow
87% of fresh water
liquid water
13% of fresh water
95% of Liquid fresh water; second largest reservoir of fresh water
soil moisture
2% of liquid fresh water
Lakes, rivers, streams
3% of liquid fresh water
process of water percolating through soil and into fractures and permeable rocks
zone of aeration
upper soil layers that hold both air and water
zone of saturation
lower soil layers where all spaces are filled with water
water table
top of zone of saturation
vadose zone
saturated zone below aerated soils
porous layers of sand, gravel or rock lying below the water table
pressurized aquifer intersects the surface (water flows without pumping)
recharge zone
area where water infiltrates into an aquifer
confining layers of an aquifer
rivers and streams
precipitation that does not evaporate or infiltrate into the ground runs off the surface, back towards the sea
best measure of water volume carried by a river; the amount of water that passes a fixed point in a given amount of time; usually expressed as cubic feet per second
play a vital role in hydrologic cycle; lush plant growth stabilizes soil and retards surface runoff, allowing more aquifer infiltration; disturbance reduces natural water-absorbing capacity, resulting in floods and erosion in wet periods, and less water flow the rest of the year
among the smallest water reservoirs; contains .001% of total water supply; has most rapid turnover rate; provides mechanism for distributing fresh water over landmasses and replenishing terrestrial reservoirs; residence time is fairly short
renewable water supplies
made up of surface runoff and infiltration into accessible freshwater aquifers
total amount of water taken from a source
fraction of withdrawn water made unavailable for other purposes (not returned to its source)
change in water quality due to contamination making it unsuitable for desired use
withdrawing large amounts of groundwater in a small area causes porous formations to collapse, resulting in _______
form when an underground channel or cavern collapses
saltwater intrusion
can occur along coastlines where overuse of freshwater reservoirs draws the water table low enough to allow saltwater to intrude
Eastern-Riparian Use Rights
residents of river bank could use as much water as they liked, as long as it did not interfere with downstream quality or availability
Western-Prior Appropriation Rights
First in time are first in right; appropriated water must be put to “beneficial use”
all the land drained by a stream or river
any physical, biological, or chemical change in water quality that adversely affects living organisms
point sources
discharge pollution form specific locations; factories, power plants
non-point sources
scattered or diffuse having no specific location of discharge; agricultural fields, feedlots, atmospheric deposition
biochemical oxygen demand
amount of dissolved oxygen consumed by aquatic microorganisms
dissolved oxygen content
measure of dissolved oxygen in water
oxygen sag
oxygen levels decline downstream from a pollution source as decomposers metabolize waste materials
bodies of water that are rich in organisms and organic material
process of increasing nutrient levels and biological productivity
cultural eutrophication
increase in biological productivity and ecosystem succession caused by human activities
pfiesteria piscicida
a poisonous dinoflagellate recognized as killer of fish and shellfish; caused neurological problems with fishermen
build up in the fatty tissue, higher levels in older, larger fish
thermal plume
produce artificial environments which attract many forms of wildlife
Clean Water Act (1972)
established a National Pollution Discharge System which requires a permit for any entity dumping wastes in surface waters; goal was to return all U.

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S. surface waters to “fishable and swimmable” conditions

Gasoline additive, and suspected carcinogen, is present in many urban aquifers
primary treatment
physical separation of large solids from the waste steam
secondary treatment
biological degradation of dissolved organic compounds; activated sludge process
tertiary treatment
removal of plant nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) from secondary effluent; chemical or natural wetlands
artificial wetlands
natural water purification; effluent can be used to irrigate crops or raise fish for human consumption
containment methods
confine liquid wastes in place, or cap surface with impermeable layer to divert water away from the site
extraction techniques
used to pump out polluted water for treatment