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Problems and Concerns caused by Human Influences on the Environment Index

Agriculture
Acid Rain
Depletion of the Ozone Layer and the Greenhouse Effect
Factory Farming
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Fossil Fuels
Industry
Natural Resources
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Human Influences on the Environment Homepage
Human Influences on the Environment : Questions

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Fact File No. 79

There are over 1.2 billion registered automobiles (cars, lorries etc.) on Earth. Filling their petrol tanks uses over half of the world's production of oil. It is estimated that the number of automobiles will have reached 2 billion by the year 2035.

 

Traffic, Bankok © Shirley Burchill

Traffic, Bankok, Thailand 2000

PROBLEMS AND CONCERNS CAUSED BY HUMAN INFLUENCES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

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Traffic

Traffic, Bankok © Shirley Burchill

Traffic, Bankok, Thailand 2000

 

Large cities always have a traffic problem. Cars and lorries burn petrol which produces pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead. oxides. The sulphur dioxide reacts with the moisture in the atmosphere to produce a weak acid solution. This acid erodes the stones, such as sandstone and limestone, which are used to make buildings.

 

Traffic, Beijing © Shirley Burchill

Traffic, Beijing, China 2002

 

Many of the ancient monuments of Athens and Rome which have survived over thousands of years are now suffering from the erosion caused by pollutants in the air.

Carbon monoxide is harmful to the human body because it takes the place of oxygen in the blood. Lead is also a dangerous chemical; once it is inside the body it cannot be removed. It accumulates in the body in organs such as the brain. Too much lead in the body causes lead poisoning which can be fatal.

Many countries have passed the laws to ensure that all new cars can use only lead-free petrol. City councils are considering ways in which to limit the numbers of cars allowed in the big cities, in an attempt to reduce the pollution.

 

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