AP Environmental Science : Types of Pollution

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Pollution

Which of the following is not a type of water pollution?

Possible Answers:

Sediment pollution

Toxic chemical pollution

All of these are types of water pollution

Nutrient pollution

Diseases and pathogen pollution

Correct answer:

All of these are types of water pollution

Explanation:

Water can be polluted and unusable due to the presence of toxic chemicals, sediments, nutrient pollution, diseases and/or pathogens, as well as thermal pollution.

Example Question #11 : Pollution

Which of the following is a secondary air pollutant?

Possible Answers:

Tropospheric ozone

Nitric oxide

Sulfur dioxide

Carbon monoxide

Correct answer:

Tropospheric ozone

Explanation:

A secondary pollutant is any kind of pollutant that is not directly emitted form a pollution source. In this case, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide are all emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal. Tropospheric ozone is formed in the reaction between volatile organic compounds and nitrous oxides and is a component in photochemical smog. 

Example Question #12 : Pollution

Water pollutants originate from both natural and human-made causes and they are classified into two general types. 

Name the two types of sources of water pollution? 

Possible Answers:

Industrial and nonindustrial 

Anthropogenic and ecological

Agriculture and municipal

Point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution

Chemical and biological

Correct answer:

Point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution

Explanation:

Point source pollution can be traced to a specific source. Factory waste is a good example. Nonpoint source pollution cannot be traced to a single source. Agricultural runoff and storm sewers are good examples.

Example Question #11 : Pollution

One of the negative effects of air pollution is that it can cause problems in the ozone layer. Which class of chemicals are known to deplete ozone?

Possible Answers:

Sulfur dioxide

Carbon dioxide

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Methane

Correct answer:

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Explanation:

The correct response is chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These chemical compounds are known to deplete ozone from the atmosphere. During the 1960s and 1970s, refrigerators were manufactured with CFCs. This is what created the whole in the ozone which we have all heard about. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of CFCs and this is greatly improved the quality of ozone in the atmosphere. 

Example Question #12 : Pollution

One of the big contributors to water pollution in the Great Lakes is eutrophication. Which of the following is least likely to cause eutrophication? 

Possible Answers:

Lawn fertilizers

Stormwater runoff

Agricultural runoff

Wetland habitat

Correct answer:

Wetland habitat

Explanation:

The correct response is wetland habitat. Wetlands help filter out nutrients and actually help prevent eutrophication. Eutrophication is the process by which nutrients accumulate in a body of water. For example, big storm events cause nutrients to leach off the ground and into rivers and lakes via runoff. All of the other answer choices either increase the rate of runoff (i.e. urbanization) or increase the amount of nutrients leaching (i.e. fertilizers). 

Example Question #11 : Pollution

Many times eutrophication creates dead zones or hypoxic zones in bodies of water. The most famous dead zone in North America occurs where the Mississippi River outflows into the Gulf of Mexico. What important resource do dead zones not have?

Possible Answers:

Potassium

Nitrogen

Carbon dioxide

Oxygen

Correct answer:

Oxygen

Explanation:

The correct response is oxygen. Deadzone are completely depleted of oxygen. This can be due to algal blooms - which consume all the available oxygen in the system. Once all the oxygen is depleted, the algae die and fall to the bottom of the lake or ocean. Deadzones can be harmful for many aquatic organisms, especially fish and bottom feeders. 

Example Question #14 : Pollution

Pollution is one of the major environmental issues affecting humans today. Urbanization has create the heat island effect. What type of pollution are heat islands?

Possible Answers:

Water pollution

Noise pollution

Thermal pollution

Chemical pollution

Correct answer:

Thermal pollution

Explanation:

The correct response is thermal pollution. The heat island effect occurs in urban cities that have a lot of black top and impervious surfaces. Heat gets trapped in the cities because there aren't many trees or natural vegetation to absorb sunlight and respire. Studies have shown that temperatures in downtown regions are significantly higher than temperatures in the suburbs of major US cities. Thus, heat islands cause there to be an excess of heat and we call this thermal pollution.

Example Question #11 : Pollution

Water-soluble inorganic materials cause algal blooms which die and create oxygen deficiencies, killing fish. Which is not a water-soluble inorganic metarial?

Possible Answers:

Caltrates

Phosphates

Nitrates

All of these are water-soluble inorganic pollutants

Correct answer:

Caltrates

Explanation:

You may have associated "caltrates" with calcium, which is a heavy metal pollutant and is not water soluble. Nitrates and phosphates are not inherently toxic, however, when present in large quantities, can throw off the balance of an ecosystem to disastrous consequences.

Example Question #11 : Pollution

All of the following may be natural sources of pollution except __________.

Possible Answers:

acid mine drainage

volcanic eruptions

oil seeps

cows expelling methane

forest fires

Correct answer:

acid mine drainage

Explanation:

Acid mine drainage occurs when water seeps through a mine or a mine’s waste pile and results in a solution of sulfuric acid. Water is used to process ore and it can become contaminated with sulfuric acid, mercury and arsenic. The contaminated water can damage ecosystems and is particularly harmful to aquatic life. Some acid drainage can occur naturally when water interacts with rock but the degree of contamination is significantly different.

Example Question #16 : Pollution

Which of the following is considered a nonpoint source of pollution?

Possible Answers:

Water pollution from mine tailings

Automobile exhaust pipe

A factory smoke stack

Fertilizers and pesticides in runoff

A leaky underground storage tank

Correct answer:

Fertilizers and pesticides in runoff

Explanation:

It is common to find some amount of fertilizers and pesticides in runoff water. It is difficult to determine the source of this pollution. Runoff may travel over many plots of lands including farms, golf courses, home gardens, etc. So there may even be multiple sources.

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