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Age Structures, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Age Structures


One of the tools that demographers use to understand population is the age structure diagram (it is sometimes called a population pyramid, but it is not always pyramidal in shape). This diagram shows the distribution by ages of females and males within a certain population in graphic form. Figure 1 shows a diagram in which the ages and sexes for the United States population are arranged so that ages are grouped together such as 0 – 4 years, 5 – 9 years, and so on. The population of each is group is represented as a bar extending from a central vertical line ...

Population Statistics, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Population Statistics


For all of its futuristic stylings, the television show Star Trek was, like most science fiction, a commentary on the state of society at the time it was written (late 1960’s). One of the more famous episodes of that series was the one entitled The Mark of Gideon, which dealt with a planet that was so overpopulated that people did not have anywhere to sit down. At the time of the show, the Earth’s population was at about 3.5 billion, and was increasing at an incredible rate. The effects of such a large population on the environment ...

Toxic Chemicals, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Toxic Chemicals


Humans have used chemicals for a long time. The ancient Egyptians used chemicals for dyeing, soldering and coloring metal, and making jewelry. The Industrial Revolution, which began in the middle of the 18th century, spawned the development of many new chemicals and chemical processes. Since World War II, the global chemical industry has boomed. Global production of chemicals was 1 million tons in 1930 and is now over 400 million tons. Environmental scientists study chemicals to determine if they are harmful to human health and the environment. Pretty much every chemical can harm you if you ingest too much of ...

Home Chemicals, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Home Chemicals


Chemicals are everywhere, in the air you breathe, in the food you eat, and in the chair you’re sitting on. Moreover, you’re mostly chemicals. Ninety nine percent of the human body is composed of just 6 chemical elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. After you die, you’ll decompose into hydrogen, nitrogen, water, ammonia, carbon dioxide, phosphoric acid, and sulfuric acid. So, from chemicals we come and to chemicals we go. Chemical elements are substances that contain one kind of atom and cannot be separated into simpler substances. There are 116 known chemical elements, of which ...

Mineral Identification, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Mineral Identification


For this activity, we are going to try to identify ten different minerals from their properties. There is an attached listing of the major properties of the most commonly found minerals. Use it and any other resources you might have to identify the ten minerals, and list your findings on the sheet below. In order to help you by giving you a little practice with mineral identification, we suggest the following virtual identifier: Your instructor will provide you with up to 10 different mineral samples for identification. To test for ...

Plate Mechanics, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Plate Mechanics


Imagine a swimming pool that is totally covered with air rafts, with the air rafts neatly lined up end to end and side by side. Then imagine someone running up and doing a cannonball jump into the pool. Logically, the rafts will be thrust about with some of them jamming into each other, others pulling apart, and still others sliding past one another—and so it is with the tectonic plates of Earth: some of the plates are colliding, others are pulling apart, and still others are sliding past one another; therefore, understandably, where there are boundaries between the tectonic ...

Plate Speed, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Plate Speed


We are truly in motion no matter where we stand on the planet. The tectonic plates that compose the crust of the Earth are in motion at a measurable rate. Everything on the crust of the Earth changes its location in relation to the planet. Yes, the plates are moving over the mantle, and we can measure this motion to determine the rate of plate movement by figuring the distances and times involved. For example, if we know the past location of a certain island, then we can measure the distance between the present location of the island and its ...

Earthquake Epicenter, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Earthquake Epicenter


In this week’s activity, we are going to try to locate the epicenter of an earthquake using readings from three different seismograph stations. This will be done by measuring the difference in time between the arrival of the P and S-waves. The difference it time of their arrivals is due to the difference in speeds for both waves. In particular, the difference in time is given by (distance to epicenter)/(Vp – Vs). Thus, we can find out how far away a particular seismograph is from an earthquake by solving this equation for distance. Since there are three stations, we ...

Climate Change, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Climate Change


Global warming is a huge issue, not just because of the potential impact of the warming on the earth’s ecosystems, but also because the principal activity responsible for the bulk of emissions, fossil fuel combustion, literally fuels the engines of industrialized, urbanized societies. The stakes are huge -- international, political, financial, and environmental. In this exercise, you’ll learn about how to assess information sources, a critical skill in forming your own opinions and actions.

Ozone Depletion, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Ozone Depletion


While we often talk about the “Ozone Hole” over the Antarctic, we rarely talk about what ozone levels are like above our own heads. While the thinning of the ozone layer over the South Pole points to potential problems that we might experience here one day, it would be nice to know what our current situation is. In this week’s activity, we will do just this with the aid of data from 4 different satellites that have been monitoring ozone levels around the world for the last several decades. The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) Program was started in ...

Acid Rain, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Acid Rain


Acidity is measured on the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 0 being acid, 7 as neutral, and 14 as alkaline. The pH scale measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in solution, which indicates acidity. The pH scale is also logarithmic, so that a change in one unit represents a tenfold change in acidity, thus a solution of pH 4 is 10 times as acidic as one with pH 5 and 100 times as acidic as pH 6. "Natural" or unpolluted rainfall is slightly acidic and has a pH of between 5.6 and 5.8. When fossil ...

Air Pollution, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Air Pollution


The following exercise is designed to acquaint you with point sources of pollution in your neighborhood. The exercise utilizes the EPA’s Envirofacts website. Envirofacts allows users to search and find out information about pollution sources anywhere in the United States. You can also identify point sources of pollution in your neighborhood, learn about specific facilities, and create maps. To begin with, go to and enter your zip code. What will be displayed is a list of facilities in your zip code that have been issued an environmental permit. Scroll over to the ...

Atmosphere, 2017 Kennesaw State University



The objective of this exercise is to have you observe atmospheric conditions as well as develop your understanding of major atmospheric concepts. For this exercise, you are asked to observe and record weather conditions for four days. In addition, you are asked to answer questions about your observations, as well as respond to a series of questions on general atmospheric characteristics. In the second part of the exercise, you are asked to perform a number of calculations relating to atmospheric conditions and characteristics.

Water Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Water Capstone


This activity is still under development. Please check back later for an update or e-mail John Pratte at for more information.

Wastewater Treatment, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Wastewater Treatment


When you think about the variety of materials that enter the wastewater system from a typical home, the list is diverse and extensive: wastes from toilets; soap, detergents, and cleaning products from drains and washing machines; food items from garbage disposals - all along with large quantities of water. How is this material removed so that the water may be safely returned to the environment and, possibly, utilized again by other people downstream? The answer depends on where you live. If your home is not serviced by a public sewer system, your wastes are undoubtedly treated with a septic system. In ...

Drinking Water Treatment, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Drinking Water Treatment


In this activity we’ll be treating "contaminated" water to observe firsthand the steps involved in purifying water for human consumption. The activity will use everyday items to carry out the steps in drinking water treatment and you will record changes in the water’s properties as the process progresses. The basic version of this exercise has you record the appearance and odor of untreated water as it moves through the various steps. In some situations, depending on available equipment and personnel, you may also be able to measure turbidity. Turbidity describes the clarity or “muddiness” of a water sample ...

Water Use, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Water Use


If you’re like most people in the developed world, you don’t think much about water. Clean, drinkable water is delivered into your residence almost invisibly, and it’s always there when you turn on a faucet. As such, most North Americans don’t see the need for water conservation, particularly those who live in areas where freshwater supplies are abundant. But as populations grow and water supplies stay roughly constant, more and more pressure is being brought to bear on rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater aquifers and the need for conservation has become almost universal. These efforts are particularly ...

Renewable Capstone, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Renewable Capstone


In this capstone activity, we are going to look at the availability and economics of solar and wind power where you live. To do this, we are going to need maps of available sunshine provided by the U.S. government. We are also going to need to know the price of solar panels and wind turbines that are commercially available. Foremost, though, we are going to need to know how much electrical energy you use before we proceed to estimate the cost of using renewable energy. Finding out how much electrical energy we use is actually quite easy. All that ...

Wind Energy, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Wind Energy


This week, we are going to study the relationship between barometric pressure and wind speed and direction. If you watch the weather forecast during the news, you will usually hear the meteorologist (or weather reporter, as the case may be) state what the air pressure is for the day and in what direction it is changing. As we have seen above, differences in air pressure are what causes air to move from one place to another. If the local air pressure is decreasing, then this means that the area is becoming a lowpressure area, and that wind will start blowing ...

Solar Energy, 2017 Kennesaw State University

Solar Energy


This week’s activity is going to investigate the effects of color and collection area on the amount of solar energy absorbed by a system. While this sounds like a very simple task, it is complicated by several factors that can seriously impact results. The biggest of these factors is that a solar collector will begin to lose energy via heat transfer as soon as its temperature increases above its surroundings. Any system that we place in sunlight will begin to conduct heat through its support, convect warm air from its surface, and re-radiate energy in the infrared to its ...

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