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Training Resources - Air Quality

Introduced for the first time in the 2011 Delaware Envirothon competition, the Air Quality portion will heighten student awareness of different types of air pollutants, pollutant sources, and the impact of hazardous air pollutants on all aspects of our environment.

Air pollution can be simply defined as gas and particle contaminants present in the atmosphere. Although simple by definition, the potential health and environmental impacts of air pollution has local, state, national, and global consequences. In 1970, Congress passed the Clean Air Act (CAA) that authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants shown to threaten human health and welfare.

By reducing air pollution, the Clean Air Act has led to significant improvements in human health and the environment in the United States. Since 1970: six commonly found air pollutants have decreased by more than 50%; air toxics from large industrial sources, such as chemical plants, petroleum refineries, and paper mills have been reduced by nearly 70%; new cars are 90% cleaner and will be cleaner in the future; and production of most ozone-depleting chemicals has ceased.

These significant reductions were achieved while the U.S. Gross Domestic Product has tripled, energy consumption has increased by 50%, and vehicle use has increased by almost 200%.

The health, environmental, and economic impacts of air pollution are significant. Each day, air pollution causes thousands of illnesses leading to lost days at work and school. Air pollution also reduces agricultural crop and commercial forest yields by billions of dollars each year. Air pollution is a worldwide problem with no political or geographic boundaries. Once released from the source, air pollutants can‘t be recaptured. Considering the primary sources of air pollution are vehicular transportation and energy production, the immediate challenge for all of us is to reduce, recycle and conserve!

The Air Quality focus of study for the 2018 competition is mobile sources. Air pollution from mobile sources is rapidly becoming the most significant source of air pollution and has a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. "Mobile sources" is a term used to describe a wide variety of vehicles, engines, and equipment that generate air pollution that move, or can be moved, from place to place.

After studying the 2018 Delaware Envirothon Air Quality Student Guide, ENVIROTHON students will be able to:

Define mobile sources and be familiar with the terms commonly used in mobile sources emissions discussions;

  • Identify the categories of mobile sources and the specific pollutants emitted from these sources;
  • Explain the health and environmental impact of mobile source emissions;
  • Calculate the CO2 (Greenhouse Gas emissions) from mobile sources;
  • Describe the characteristics and challenges of implementing local, regional and national mass transportation systems and smart growth strategies;
  • Explain the ongoing development of alternate fuels and green vehicle technologies;
  • Be aware of the career opportunities in transportation and green vehicle technologies; and
  • Outline the ongoing efforts of governments and the individual citizen to help control and reduce mobile source emissions.


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