ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES 5
The state and federal governments have established environmental lawsregulating requirements of emission since human activities such ascigarette smoking, driving, industrialization and waste disposal aredetrimental to the environment. There are lawsregulating various emissionsubstances and activities like outdoor burning, vehicle emissions,industrial smoke, and forest clearing through fires among others inTexas State. This paper focusses on outdoor burning and vehicleemission as stipulated in the Texas State law (2016).
Outdoor burning is regulated because ofmany factors. Individuals, firms, and institutions like schools mayburn substances such as plastics, tires,domestic wastes, rubber, biochemical wastes, manure, paint and itsproducts, paper, fuel, and containers.These substances contain pollutants such asacetaldehyde, dioxins, hydrogen chloride, formaldehyde, andnaphthalene. The pollutants irritate the skin, eyes, respiratorytract, and even the central nervous system causing fatigue, headachesand dizziness. Also, when the air is calm, outdoor burning producessmoke that affects vision and makes itdifficult for people who have respiratory problems like asthma tobreath. Nuisances such as odor and health risks are rampantespecially if the area is densely populated. Outdoor burning can leadto more safety risks such as the spread offire to neighboring places and ultimately cause deaths anddestruction of property. Research indicates that open burning by onehousehold releases high levels of dangerous toxins to the environmentthan when thousands of homes have theirtrash incinerated by municipal burners. It is because lowtemperatures of combustion prevent total incineration, thus releasingfresh toxins to the environment. Smoke that isproduced from open burning contains fine particles, whichaccumulate in the atmosphere, and in the long-run, they causerespiratory complications such as Chronic Obstructive PulmonaryDisease (COPD). The substances also combine with rainwaterto cause corrosion of manmade materials like metals and concrete(Johansson et al., 2014).
On the other hand, vehicle emissions contribute to theformation of smog. The propulsion of a vehicle comes as a resultof burning fuel. In the process, Carbon Monoxide (CO), VolatileOrganic Compounds (VOCs), fine particulate matter, and NitrogenOxides (NO) are released into the air.During the months of summer and spring, Volatile Organic Compoundsand Nitrogen Oxides react, leading to the formation of othersecondary pollutants and the ground level ozone. In winter, vehicleemissions are trapped at the ground level due to temperatureinversion. This process may lead to high concentrationsof primary pollutants like particulate matter, NO, and CO. NO is anirritant of the mucosal lining of the respiratory system and thelungs. The irritation may lead to serious complications such aschronic respiratory diseases and cancer. It is also a precursor tothe formation of smog and peroxy-acetyl-nitrate (PAN), which is avery dangerous chemical to the human body. Carbon monoxide impairsthe capacity of hemoglobin to carry oxygen to body tissues. Thisimpairment may lead to tissue death as a result of ischemia. VOCsvary in their effects. For instance, 1, 3 –butadiene and benzeneare carcinogenic. It is because they affect the basic cellularbiochemistry that controls cell division. Fine particulate matter isusually inhaled into the deep lung parenchyma. Dieselparticles are identified as being highlydangerous because they are tiny, and can beinhaled with ease. These particles affect the body in variedways. For example, some people may develop allergies, suffocation,mental retardation, and cancer (Zhou, Cohan, & Henderson, 2014).
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality(TCEQ) is mandated to handle penal aspects in case emissionrules are violated. When a “smoking vehicle” is reported throughany means to the TCEQ, then a notice is given with further directiveslike appearance in person, repairing the vehicle, or reporting to thepolice. When the owner of the vehicle does not adhere to the notice,then he/she is punished by a fine of onedollar, as a minimum, and three hundred and fifty dollars, as amaximum. It is applicable when the vehicle releases excessive smokefor more than 10 seconds. TCEQ states that there are no exceptionsfor any upsetting emissions that go beyond the limits that arestipulated. If the owner was previously convictedof a similar offense, then it is amisdemeanor, and he/she ispunished by a fine not less than two hundred dollars, and notexceeding one thousand dollars. The aggregate for repeated violationsmay not exceed ten thousand dollars. A vehicle is also eligible to bewaivered if both the re-test and initial emission inspection wereunsuccessful. The related costs of repair also have to be at leastfour hundred and fifty dollars. It is because the vehicle has poorstandards of regulating its rates of emission to the environment.Incarceration is also an option for frequent and intentionalviolations of emission rules (Braddock, McQuaid, Zeis, & Baroody,2013).
Outdoor burning is prohibited unless permission isgranted from relevant authorities like TCEQ. Intentional openburning that spreads fire to other places causing damages, and deathsshall be considered as arson, and theperpetrator shall be tried in a court oflaw. There are other penalties stated in the Texas State law onenvironmental emission.
In conclusion, environmental conservation is a priority thatTexas State has upheld. Many other statesin the U.S have environmental regulatory lawsthat are facing various challenges. We are tasked to minimize therates of emission to the atmosphere, since the Earthis facing a threat of global warming. Adhering tothe state requirements on emission is imperative.
TCEQ. (2016). Retrieved 29May 2016, fromhttps://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/legal/rules/rules/pdflib/101a.pdf
Braddock, P., McQuaid, J.,Zeis, W., & Baroody, T. (2013). Texasenvironmental law handbook.43-50. Rockville, Md.: Government Institutes.
Johansson, J., Mellqvist,J., Samuelsson, J., Offerle, B., Lefer, B., & Rappenglück, B.(2014). Emission measurements of alkenes, alkanes, SO 2,and NO 2 from stationary sources in Southeast Texas over a five-yearperiod using SOF and mobile DOAS. JournalOf Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 119(4),1973-1991. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2013jd020485
Zhou, W., Cohan, D., &Henderson, B. (2014). Slowerozone creation in Houston, Texas following emission reductions:evidence from Texas Air Quality Studies in 2000 and 2006. AtmosphericChemistry And Physics, 14(6),2777-2788. http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/acp-14-2777-2014