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Emissions and Urban Air

Emissions and Urban Air

(p.102) Chapter 4 Emissions and Urban Air
Constructed Climates
William G. Wilson
University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at the issues involving air, covering the causes and consequences of contributions from both human and nonhuman organisms. Humans dominate emissions in urban areas. Air quality studies categorize emission sources as either point or nonpoint, roughly corresponding to fixed or moving, respectively. Both types of emissions roughly match maps of population density, at least in the United States. Vegetation and soils also emit chemicals, often as a by-product of evolution in the face of herbivory, competition, and environmental stresses that yielded chemical responses and defenses. These emissions can reduce air quality in urban areas, with some tree species being worse “violators” than others. These emissions feed into, among other pollutants, ozone formation in the hot summer months. For a more complete understanding of urban pollution, the chapter provides an overview of the chemical reactions that link volatile organic compounds (VOCs), reactive nitrogen, sunshine, ozone, and eye-stinging pollutants.

Keywords:   vegetation, chemicals, volatile organic compounds, ozone, emissions, urban air

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