AP Environmental Science : Pollution

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Pollution

This pollutant is typically credited for promoting dental health, but in water in high quantities, health impacts include yellowing teeth and spinal cord damage.

Possible Answers:

fluoride

nitrate

arsenic

chlorine

Correct answer:

fluoride

Explanation:

Fluoride in high doses is extremely problematic, making it a concerning pollutant. It is extremely prevalent in products used in dental health. Because these are products that are generally washed away, fluoride is of special concern as a water pollutant.

Example Question #4 : Health Impacts

Excessive fertilizer use creates abundances of __________ in soil and groundwater.

Possible Answers:

chlorinated solvents

nitrates

sewage

arsenic

Correct answer:

nitrates

Explanation:

Nitrates, a form of nitrogen, are a severe problem in drinking water that has been contaminated with fertilizers. Sewage and fertilizer often go hand in hand from agricultural areas. Arsenic and chlorine are concerning pollutants, but generally not present due to fertilizer use.

Example Question #5 : Health Impacts

A skull and crossbones symbol on a container indicates that the contents are __________.

Possible Answers:

corrosive

alcoholic

toxic/poisonous

flammable

Correct answer:

toxic/poisonous

Explanation:

Skull and crossbones indicates poison. Corrosive materials are labelled "corrosive" and signs indicating the substance corroding metal may be present. Flammable materials are marked with flames.

Example Question #6 : Health Impacts

Carbon monoxide limits oxygen delivery to the body's organs and tissues. 95% of carbon monoxide emissions in cities comes from __________.

Possible Answers:

industrial facilities

coal burning

None of these

automobile exhaust

Correct answer:

automobile exhaust

Explanation:

Only 5% of carbon monoxide in cities does not originate from car exhaust. Though industrial facilities are a major concern as a source of pollution, regarding carbon monoxide specifically, automobiles have a much higher impact.

Example Question #11 : Health Impacts

Which author first brought the issue of bioaccumulation into the public's eye? 

Possible Answers:

Henry David Thoreau 

Al Gore

William Jennings

Rachel Carson

Correct answer:

Rachel Carson

Explanation:

Rachel Carson's novel Silent Spring brought widespread attention to the damage of bioaccumulation in ecosystems. Her outcry against the dangerous chemical DDT (dichlorophenyltrichloroethane) was the first to display the issues associated with large-scale pesticide use. Al Gore's work concerned global warming and the other answer choices are more associated with historical events rather than environmental ones. 

Example Question #41 : Pollution

What is the difference between chronic and acute exposure? 

Possible Answers:

Acute exposure is more hazardous

Chronic exposure is more toxic 

Concentration and delivery time

Acute exposure is more sustained

Correct answer:

Concentration and delivery time

Explanation:

Acute exposure is an exposure to a substance over a short period of time in a relatively high concentration. Conversely, chronic exposure occurs over long periods of time at relatively lower concentrations. Toxicity and hazard depend of the circumstance of the substance, not the type of exposure. Acute exposure may or may not be more hazardous or toxic than chronic exposure to the same substance. 

Example Question #42 : Pollution

In the US, we regulate major pollutants that cause detrimental effects to humans and the environment. In 1970, an act was signed into law that gave the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permission to regulate pollutants and it sparked the environmental movement. What is this important act called?

Possible Answers:

Clean Water Act

Clean Climate Act

Clean Ecosystems Act

Clean Air Act

Correct answer:

Clean Air Act

Explanation:

The correct response is Clean Air Act. The signing of this act set a precedent that allowed for the signing of additional environmental acts. This act banned toxic chlorofluorocarbons that had caused the whole in the ozone layer. The Clean Air Act gave the EPA permission to regulate, establish laws, and fine individuals and businesses for violating the act.

Example Question #1 : Economic Impacts

Which of the following is the dominant source of the pollutant ?

Possible Answers:

Refrigerants 

Nuclear power

Coal and crude oil

Natural gas

Agriculture

Correct answer:

Coal and crude oil

Explanation:

Coal deposits often contain high levels of sulfur compounds that are emitted into the atmosphere when combusted. Much of this could be abated with clean coal technology.

Example Question #2 : Economic Impacts

In the United States, which piece of federal legislation holds polluting companies and individuals financially accountable for environmental clean-up and restoration?

Possible Answers:

NEPA

RCRA

CERCLA

NRCS

EPA

Correct answer:

CERCLA

Explanation:

NRCS (National Resource Conservation Service) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are federal agencies, not pieces of legislation. NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requires environmental assesments for proposed federal projects and RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) classifies waste as solid or hazardous and sets regulations for storage and treatment of said waste. CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act) establishes a superfund for heavily polluted areas and holds responsible firms financially accountable.

Example Question #3 : Economic Impacts

 

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 established the Superfund for heavily polluted or contaminated sites. What is the source of revenue for Superfund cleanup projects?

Possible Answers:

Nobody is held directly accountable. The sales tax that we pay for petroleum and lead products go to the Superfund and provide revenue when a cleanup has to happen.

The Potentially Responsible Party is held financially accountable and must foot the cost of cleanup upfront and before cleanup can take place.

The funding for the Superfund is actually revenue generated by the EPA from fines they have issued firms found guilty of improper waste management or disposal.

Federal funding is provided for cleaning up Superfund sites, and the cost can be recovered by holding the Potentially Responsible Party financially accountable.

The taxpayers foot the bill for any Superfund cleanup sight. CERCLA considers citizens and consumers equally accountable for environmental harm.

Correct answer:

Federal funding is provided for cleaning up Superfund sites, and the cost can be recovered by holding the Potentially Responsible Party financially accountable.

Explanation:

Superfund is initially federally funded (by taxpayer revenue), but the EPA uses CERCLA to hold Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) financially accountable and recover the cost of cleanup that has so far been financed by the government.

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