Air Pollution as Seen From the Skies
From Mt. Etna to China to the Sahara, these striking satellite images of air pollution are from both natural and man-made causes
- By Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian.com, April 20, 2010
In the United States, the Clean Air Act has resulted in reductions in pollutants emitted through power generation. But the industry is still responsible for about 70 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 20 percent of the nitrous oxide compounds released into the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides are responsible for acid rain and the acidification of many of the waters of the eastern half of the country. Nitrous oxides also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of urban smog. In addition, about 40 percent of U.S. mercury emissions—which contaminate fish and other animals and can cause neurological damage when people eat these organisms—come from power generation.