AP Environmental Science : Types of Pollution

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Types Of Pollution

This form of smog tends to be sulfur-based (also known as grey-smog):

Possible Answers:

urban smog

industrial smog

none of the other answers are correct

organic smog

photochemical smog

Correct answer:

industrial smog

Explanation:

There are only two forms of smog: industrial, which tends to be sulfur-based, and photochemical, which tends to be nitrogen-based.

Example Question #1 : Types Of Pollution

Which of the following has the EPA classified as criteria air pollutants?

Possible Answers:

sulfur dioxide

all of these are classified as criteria air pollutants

carbon monoxide

particulate matter

nitrogen dioxide

Correct answer:

all of these are classified as criteria air pollutants

Explanation:

The EPA has established air quality standards for six primary air pollutants, which they refer to as criteria air pollutants. These pollutants are: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, lead, and ozone.

Example Question #2 : Types Of Pollution

Which type of pollution is most likely to be present at a coal mining site in rural Virginia?

Possible Answers:

Radiation

Light pollution

Air pollution

Thermal pollution

Water pollution

Correct answer:

Water pollution

Explanation:

At mining sites, debris and byproducts from the mining often pile up near the site. When it rains, this material is washed into the nearest watershed; after this, it shows up in lakes, rivers, in animals, and in the groundwater.

Example Question #3 : Types Of Pollution

During prolonged periods of __________, air pollutants build up and are trapped in a dense, cool layer of air beneath a layer of less dense, warm air.

Possible Answers:

Upwelling

Temperature inversion

Front collision

Photochemical smog

Correct answer:

Temperature inversion

Explanation:

This situation is known as temperature inversion. Temperature inversion occurs in two primary ways: radiation temperature inversion and subsidence temperature inversion.

Example Question #4 : Types Of Pollution

 

Transit Company A and Waste Company B were contracted to transport and store hazardous industrial waste products and it was found that their holding tanks were corroded and leaking hazardous contents. The disposal site is designated a superfund site and will require federal funding for environmental cleanup. Under which articles of federal legislation could this company be held financially liable for the cost of cleanup?

Possible Answers:

FIFRA (Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act)

CWA (Clean Water Act)

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)

CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act)

ESA (Endangered Species Act)

Correct answer:

CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act)

Explanation:

CWA (Clean Water Act) serves more to regulate water pollution, while FIFRA (Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act) serves as the primary federal regulation of commercial pesticides. ESA (Endangered Species Act) targets the sale and transport of endangered species and governs their classification. Regardless, none of these laws address financial liability for environmental cleanup. 

While RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) does govern the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, this legislation mostly establishes standards for disposal, classification of hazardous wastes and fines for failed compliance. CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act) is the legislation that enforces financial liability for environmental cleanup. This legislation establishes a Superfund, which allocates federal tax dollars to clean up sites that are heavily polluted and hazardous to public health. However, the EPA does not like cleaning up other people's messes on their dime, so CERCLA is essential in holding potentially responsible parties financially responsible for the cost of cleanup.

Example Question #4 : Types Of Pollution

 

Oscar operates a waste management firm that transports and disposes of hazardous industrial waste. To operate legally in the United States, Oscar must hold a permit as a Treatment Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF). Which article of federal legislation is responsible for the stringent permitting and regulations that Oscar must follow to legally operate?

Possible Answers:

ESA (Endangered Species Act)

CAA (Clean Air Act)

CWA (Clean Water Act)

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)

CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act)

Correct answer:

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)

Explanation:

CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act) establishes the superfund for environmental cleanup and holds potentially liable parties financially responsible for the cost of cleanup. However, it does not specifically enforce "cradle to grave" regulations and permitting for the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.

The Clean Air Act is more directed towards establishing healthy attainment levels of airborne pollutants, while the CWA (Clean Water Act) governs point-source discharge of pollutants into waterways and the ESA (Endangered Species Act) classifies species as endangered and limits their sale, transport or destruction of critical habitat. Regardless, none of these laws establish or enforce the transport and disposal of hazardous waste.

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) is the legislation that establishes standards for transportation and long-term storage and disposal of hazardous and solid waste (i.e. "cradle to grave"). Permits for Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities are issued based upon standards and regulations established through RCRA.

Example Question #5 : Types Of Pollution

Acidification of lake and reservoir surface waters is caused by what type of pollutants?

Possible Answers:

Air & water pollutants

Air pollutants only

Water pollutants only

None of these

Correct answer:

Air pollutants only

Explanation:

Air pollutants from power plants/other industrial plants, as well as car emissions, cause acid rain and surface water acidification. Though water pollution is of concern, it is important ot note that air pollutants impact water as well as the air.

Example Question #6 : Types Of Pollution

This type of pollution effects humans less than sea turtles, who seek out dark, secluded beaches to lay their eggs. Nestlings, once hatched, must navigate to the sea from their nest.

Possible Answers:

water pollution

nutrient pollution

noise pollution

light pollution

Correct answer:

light pollution

Explanation:

Light pollution is a major issue for navigating turtles - females and hatchlings. Noise pollution has a large impact on some marine life, but more so for whales and other animals who use sound as communication. In relation to the circumstances in he question, light pollution is the most appropriate answer.

Example Question #7 : Types Of Pollution

Which of the following is least likely to be a dangerous consequence of leachate from a sanitary landfill?

Possible Answers:

The leachate can contain toxic metal compounds 

The leachate can be classified as toxic waste and have to be treated accordingly

The leachate can leak into groundwater 

The leachate can leak into nearby soils

The leachate can be at a high temperature

Correct answer:

The leachate can be at a high temperature

Explanation:

A leachate is a liquid that, in the course of passing through matter, extracts component of the material through which it has passed. In the case of sanitary landfills – where waste is isolated from the environment until it is deemed safe – the main concern is the safety of the leachate in terms of composition and permeability. The leachate could potential carry and spread the very compounds in the landfill waste that have deemed it unsafe, such as toxic wastes and metals. However the temperature of the leachate is very rarely a concern. 

Example Question #8 : Types Of Pollution

Which infamous locale garnered public attention by bringing to light the dangerous effects of disposing of toxic chemicals underground? 

Possible Answers:

Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania

Bhopal, India

Minamata, Japan

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Love Canal, New York

Correct answer:

Love Canal, New York

Explanation:

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were sites of devastating nuclear disasters caused by reactor meltdowns. Bhopal was the site of a terrible gas leak when water entered an industrial tank of methyl isocyanate (MIC). Minamata was plagued by severe mercury poisoning caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the a chemical factory. However Love Canal was a site used to bury 22,000 tons of toxic waste. The site was later sold to the a school board, and even long after purchasing, attempts at construction allowed previously trapped chemicals to seep out. The resulting breaches combined with particularly heavy rainstorms released and spread the chemical waste, leading to a public health emergency and serious evaluation of urban planning procedures.

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