Carbon & Air Pollution

A lot has been written about climate change and its potential impact on plant and animal species and the human race. We are well along the path of significantly warming the planet and have just recently seen such extreme events as droughts, heat waves, superstorms, record glacial melting and floods. The negative impact on human health is well-documented – threats to the food supply, loss of life, homelessness, increases in insect-borne disease, etc. In 2012, in addition to those who were hurt, lost their homes or died in weather-related events, a record number of people died of West Nile virus. Recently the Government Accountability Office added climate change to the federal government’s 2013 High Risk List.

Each year, the production of plastic water bottles produces as much carbon dioxide as two million cars. Although eliminating bottled water will have only a small impact, it’s a step in the right direction and it’s something we can easily do right now.

The production of plastic releases dioxin, a known carcinogen. It also releases other noxious gases into the atmosphere, such as benzene. Billions of bottles end up in the trash and are incinerated each year. Potential hazardous emissions from incinerating plastics include hydrogen chloride, dioxin, cadmium, and fine particulate matter. Sulfur dioxide, another chemical linked to factory emissions, can mix with hot air and cause destructive acid rain.