pollutants of concern are lumped into a few, general categories
or into prominent singularities. Particulates
occupy a catch-all grouping of minute particles where size
is the basis for categorization. The federal standard has
gone from measuring the level of Total Suspended Particles,
relatively coarse particles, to sampling particles less
than the diameter of a human hair - 10 microns or less in
size - and in 1997 to 2.5 microns in size.
Volatile Organic Chemicals
(VOCs) are just that. Ozone is produced
by the reaction between VOCs and nitrogen oxides.
Sulfur dioxide is emitted from burning coal
and produces sulfuric acid. Carbon monoxide
and lead are well-known regulated substances along
with an extensive number of hazardous air pollutants.
West Virginia, although a small state, has a large
amount of two of the three main fossil fuels
-- coal and natural gas, and has some oil, too. All
are high in carbon, having originated from buried organic
sediments. In fact, coal and shale are an excellent source
of fossils for collecting. Sorry, kids, there are no dinosaur
fossils -- the rock strata are too old.
Fossil fuel combustion
is a significant cause of urban air pollution (photochemical
smog, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide,
toxic gasses, vapors and heavy metals, particulate matter) and
acid rain, and is strongly implicated in global
climate change (greenhouse effect). Stratospheric
ozone depletion can occur through fluidized bed coal combustion.
Last updated on Tuesday, July 24, 2001