Your questions about pollution2020-05-25T13:36:43+00:00

Your questions about pollution

Please take a look at my Pollution Guide before you ask me a question. You may find I’ve already answered it! If you’re still puzzled by something to do with energy which isn’t answered on this page or in my Pollution Guide send me your question using the form below

Click on the question to expand

Garbage and penguins2020-05-14T06:04:39+00:00

Dear Tiki, Please help me! I’ve got this HUGE end of year assigment in which i have to reasearch garrbage your website helped lots, but I need more!!!! Please help! Your greatest fan, Loren, 11 PS I luv penguins!

Dear Loren: I think you should find all you need if you follow the links from my Pollution guide and also those from my Eating the Future guide. I’m glad you like penguins so much!

What are carbon footprints?2020-05-11T13:13:12+00:00

Dear Tiki: I wanted to ask what are corbon footprints and how to reduce them. Everybody says that reduce your carbon footprint and save the Earth. After reading your website also I couldn’t understand what are carbon footprints and how to reduce them. Ok bye, from Sharanya.

Carbon footprints are all explained here.


Ways to prevent air pollution?2020-05-11T13:10:45+00:00

Hey Tiki, I am doing a science essay on air pollution. Can you help me? What are some ways you can prevent air pollution? Thanks Anna

Dear Anna: First thing I suggest, if you haven’t already done it, is have a look at my pollution guide. I’ve also answered some of your question on my pollution questions page. The best way to prevent air pollution is to stop burning fossil fuels which are the source of most air pollution. Not only does burning these fuels make carbon dioxide (CO2, the main pollutant causing global warming) but it also produces oxides of nitrogen, smog and soot from car exhausts, power station chimneys and heating for homes and offices. So cutting down drastically on energy use is really the only way to make a big difference to air pollution. There are no other easy options though there are expensive and difficult ways of removing some of the pollutants. I hope this helps you in your essay!

How come we have fossil fuels?2020-05-11T13:09:29+00:00

Dear Tiki, How come we have fossil fuels? How bad does fossil fuel pollute the earth? Why do we use fossil fuel? How much fossil fuel does it take to power various vehicles, ie. a train? Why do fossil fuels pollute the earth? Your friend Gabrielle

Dear Gabrielle: I’ve answered some of your questions on my website. You’ll find most of them if you look through my guides to climate change, pollution and energy. You ask about fossil fuel powering various vehicles. The simplest answer is these graphs.


Could you give me a quick summary about pollution?2020-05-11T13:06:08+00:00

Hello Tiki: What is pollution? Because I work on school stuff for my grandma and I need to teach her about pollution. I was looking at your website. Good information! But I got on the: Pollution, muck, stink, and poison Part but I don’t want to read all of that. I was wondering if you could give me a quick summary on that part. I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would do that for me! Your website lover, Miss Teacher J

thisDear Miss Teacher: The whole point of my guide to pollution is that it’s a summary! “But I don’t want to read all of that,” you say. It would take you less than one hour to read the whole lot. Surely you can manage that! I can’t summarise what is already a summary, and besides, pollution is a huge topic. So please do have a go at my pollution guide. Can you get your grandma to read with you and then you can talk about it as you read. Good luck!


Is there anyway I can help China with its pollution problems?2020-05-11T13:02:09+00:00

Hi! My name is namisha, and im doing a project on china. We had to choose an issue, and make a brochure on it. we have to say what we can do to help the issue. I chose pollution (obviously). I live in australia, so would there be anything i can do to help china’s pollution problems? Please halp because i have searched alot on the net on what i can do but it always showed up as the actuall problem, not on how i can help the problem. I saw your site, but i con only do the things you said if i was in china to help. would there be anything i can do here in australia to help that lots of other children can do to?

Hello Namisha: Your project is a tricky one and I’m not surprised you’ve had problems with it. Obviously you could do something if you lived in China but what can you, an Australian, do?!
Well, something did occur to me. One of the main reasons that China has such a pollution problem is because rich countries buy so many consumer goods (like TVs, mobile phones, computers, kitchen gadgets and so on and on), most of which are made in China. In effect, the rich countries are ‘exporting’ their pollution to China. Let’s say it takes a ton of coal to make the energy needed to make a fridge, that coal is burned in China, polluting the air as it is burned. If that fridge had been made in Australia, the pollution would still happen but it wouldn’t be in China. The key to this is that people in general need to buy less stuff and this is how kids can help. If you and your friends and family buy fewer ‘consumables’, there will be less pollution. Look at how complicated everyone’s lives are these days: all the stuff you ‘need’; the fashions to be followed and so on. We penguins (and all other animals apart from humans) live very simple lives with no fashions, no advertising, no endless masses of things to buy. People need to simplify their lives and lighten up in their impact on China and the planet, don’t you think? You could play your part in this if you wanted to. What do you think?

Why organic fertilisers better artificial2020-05-11T12:59:22+00:00

Dear Tiki: I like the way you answer questions.Now I want to ask you1 question. 1. Why are organic fertilizers better than chemical ones? I hope you’ll answer my question. With love, Alakarthika

That’s a very good question to ask. The main reason is that non-organic ‘chemical’ fertilisers need a large amount of energy to make and when they are applied to crops, they (in this case, nitrogen fertilisers, the most common sort) break down in the soil into nitrates (which pollute rivers and the groundwater which we drink) and nitrous oxide which is a powerful greenhouse gas. The energy to make the fertilisers comes from oil and so adds pollution, mostly carbon dioxide, to the air which also adds to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Organic fertilisers include ‘green manure’ which uses the abilities of plants called legumes (alfalfa, clovers, peas, beans) to make their own nitrogen fertiliser.
I hope that answers your question.

What can I do to stop pollution?2020-05-11T12:56:58+00:00

What can I do to help stop pollution?

What you can do (at the end of this pollution guide) should give you plenty of ideas!

Hybrid cars2020-05-11T12:54:09+00:00

hey tiki don’t you think if hybrid cars were invented before normal cars it would be a lot less gas even though hybrid cars are to much money it’s the better thing to drive right. THANKYOU and please send me your point of view about what I said

If hybrid cars had been used from the start, I expect you’re right: a lot less fuel would have been used. Right now, it’s better to drive a hybrid rather than a big gas-guzzler.

What is pollution?2020-05-11T12:51:52+00:00

Dear tiki, I would like to know what is air and water pollution. I am doing a project on pollution and I need help!!!!! My name is Kayla and I’m 9.

Dear Kayla: Have you looked at my Pollution Guide?
Air pollution is the gases and smoke which come out of chimneys (factories, houses) and vehicle exhaust pipes. They are often poisonous and people dump them into the air because its costs nothing to do so. But they create air pollution like smog over big cities and acid rain from coal-burning power stations (sulphur dioxide) and traffic (nitrogen oxides). Farming too causes a lot of air pollution (methane). One of the worst forms of pollution you can neither see nor smell: it is carbon dioxide and so much of it is being pumped out by factories, traffic (including ships and airplanes) and power stations that it is warming the Earth’s climate. You can read about that in my Hot Earth Guide.
As for water pollution, The Water Pollution Guide is very useful.

Why do people mess up the earth?2020-05-11T12:45:55+00:00

Why do people mess up earth?

Simple question… tricky answer. Some people just want to make lots of money and don’t care what damage they do in this quest. But most people aren’t really aware that they are ‘messing up the Earth’. That’s why I have made my website so that at least kids have a chance to understand what’s going on around them. Then, like you, they can get involved in doing something. Everyone should, as you said in your other email, be more like you and “recycle, save water and pick up papers”. But there’s much more to be done too!

How does radiation affect humans?2020-05-11T12:43:47+00:00

How does radiation affect humans?

There are various types of radiation. Some are natural like the heat you feel on your skin from the Sun. Others are connected to nuclear weapons or nuclear power and have been created by humans. I expect that was what you were asking about.
Radiation of all sorts (including some of the Sun’s radiation called ‘ultraviolet’) is harmful to humans and to all life. Small amounts of radiation may not have any noticeable effect on someone but years later, that person may have a high chance of developing the sickness called cancer. Higher doses of radiation make people sick right away and usually quickly kills people.
Having said that, some radiation is used by doctors in a controlled way to target certain types of cancer (tumours) and, carefully done, it can save lives rather than destroy them.

When will the ozone layer disappear?2020-05-11T12:41:34+00:00

Do you know how long will it take for the ozone layer to dissapear?

The ozone layer won’t disappear. It has been damaged by man-made chemicals containing chlorine (and other halogens) but there’s an international agreement to phase these out. It will take many decades for the damage to be repaired by natural processes but it will happen – eventually.

Has pollution from fossil fuels changed over the years?2020-05-11T12:39:53+00:00

Dear Tiki, I need to know how fossil fuels air pollution has changed over the years? I am nine years old. From Sadie.

The simple answer is that it’s become much worse. Each year is worse than the one before because there are more people burning up more fuel. Yet you only have to go back in time for about 300 years to a time when coal, oil and gas had hardly been discovered and were hardly used at all. This was before the Industrial Revolution and people then relied upon water and wind power and also muscle power (animals and people) to operate machinery and do everything else. There were no cars or planes. People heated their houses, if at all, by using wood. So there was no fossil fuel pollution then. It’s all happened so quickly – from nothing to billions of tons every year. You can see how fast this has happened in my Time Machine. Remember to look at my Climate Change Guide for more info on fossil fuels and stuff.

What pollution do aircraft cause?2020-05-11T12:35:16+00:00

What kinds of pollutants come from an airplane and what harm do they do to the environment. Also,what are the dangers and/or hazards of airplanes?

The most important pollutants which come from airplanes are more or less the same as those from cars and power stations. They are carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxides (NO2 and NO, often called NOx). Burning of hydrocarbon fuels (aviation fuel) also produces a lot of water vapour, itself a strong greenhouse gas, which forms condensation trails. These con trails increase cloudiness which tends to trap warmth below them and stop it from escaping by radiation back into space, just like CO2 gas. Con trails are one reason why aircraft emissions are more damaging at the high altitudes at which they fly (8-13 km). CO2 and water vapour are the main global warming gases from jet exhausts but there’s a rather complicated reaction between the NOx gases, sunlight and oxygen which creates ozone (O3) gas which is itself a greenhouse gas. Aircraft also emit unburnt hydrocarbons, soot, and sulphate particles. You may want to look at my global warming guide.
Apart from the global warming gases I mentioned, NOx adds to acid rain which harms lakes and forests in many parts of the world.
The dangers of airplanes are mainly that there are so many flying around all the time that they are doing a lot of damage to the atmosphere. Other dangers are obvious: they can crash for various reasons. Terrorists have also discovered that they can be used as missiles if they are hijacked. They can also be used by military forces for dropping bombs on cities and killing lots of people.

Farmers and pesticides2020-05-11T12:28:47+00:00

Why won’t farmers stop using pesticides* and drugs^??! don’t they even know that it’s bad for health??????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!

Many farmers don’t think it is bad for health. Many more are quite careful about how much pesticide they use and feel that their approach is the best way to produce reasonable food. Others don’t care about these things and just want to make as much money as they can.

Where will we get clean fresh water?2020-05-11T12:26:55+00:00

dear tiki: i have wondered if the mexican gulf got pollouted what would happen to the fresh water and china has about a week before its water supply of clean water runs out whos next the whole world ? yours sincerely, lisanne

Dear Lisanne: If the Gulf of Mexico was polluted, it wouldn’t affect fresh water. Fresh water comes from rain and rain comes from clouds which form from pure water vapour which evaporates from the sea because of the wind and heat of the sun. This process distills the water, leaving behind the sea salt and any pollution there may be.
I don’t think China will run out of water. I think you must be talking about the pollution accident when a poisonous chemical called benzene was spilled into the Songhua River after a chemical factory explosion above the city of Harbin in China back in November 2005. The poisonous water has now passed the city and will eventually end up in the sea.
Pollution is horrible. I wish it could all be stopped, but it’s not going to destroy the whole world’s water supplies.

Is there a machine to get rid of pollution?2020-05-11T10:12:03+00:00


That’s a very simple but good question. And there’s a very simple answer: it would cost too much! There would have to be lots of different machines all over the world, cleaning different sorts of pollution. The best way is to stop the pollution happening in the first place.

Pesticide pollution2020-05-11T10:06:03+00:00

Dear Tiki, I need to do a report on pesticides and how they pollute the earth. Would you please give me more information for pesticides? I learned a lot from your article like there is pollution everywhere you go. Thank you very much! From, Ron

There are several links to small popup windows from my Pollution Guide. Perhaps you missed them? Here are two (one, two)which have more information about pesticides and other chemicals. They also have useful links to other sites which will tell you much more. The Pesticides Action Network is probably the most useful website for detail.

Garbage and penguins2020-05-11T10:00:33+00:00

Dear tiki: i wanted to know if right away u could tell me about the acid rain in canada and why it is caused e-mail me back a.s.a.p

Acid rain is caused by burning fossil fuels like gasoline and coal. Burning these fuels creates gases called sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These dissolve in raindrops to form acids: sulphuric and nitric acid.

How can me and my friends help stop pollution?2020-05-12T07:48:19+00:00

Hi, My name is Sierra and me and a few of my classmates are doing a project on pollution. We were wondering if you could send information to us about how to stop pollution and what we can do in our community. Please help us out if you can, we’ll greatly appreciate the help. Thank you, The Pollution Patrol.

Hello Sierra and the Pollution Patrol: You can find a list of ideas about how to stop pollution at the end of my pollution guide. And then there’s even more stuff if you follow some of the links. Good luck with your project!

Oil pollution of the seas2020-05-11T09:46:19+00:00

Tiki: Im in 7th grade and I have a project to do about how we people pollute the water with oil. I was wondering if you could send me information on oil and how it pollutes the water. Thank you, Ashley

Hi Ashley: You could look at some of the links I give at the end of my guide for more stuff on this. Basically, oil is quite poisonous to living things and if a ship carrying it has an accident, the oil pours out onto the water surface. It doesn’t mix – it floats forming a slick. It kills birds and fish directly and sooner or later gets blown towards some coast  and coats all the beaches and rocks. That kills everything that lives there and destroys local fishing industries too.

How do I find out about pollution from different countries2020-05-11T07:21:35+00:00

Hi. My name’s Stefani, and I was wondering if, next time you go to put something on your site if you could put some info on other contries and there pollution, like France, Australia, Italy and other contries like that, because every time I get an assignment on other contries they sometimes ask you what is the pollution like. And when I go to look they never have anything on the subject. Well I hope you do this because it will be very helpfull.

Thanks for your suggestion Stefani. This information is quite hard to find I agree. The United Nations agencies have a lot of info but it’s not easy to understand. Try the UNEP.

Ozone, aerosol sprays and aircraft2020-05-11T06:37:12+00:00

Can you tell me about aerosol sprays and how they are eating the ozone layer

Aerosol sprays these days mostly are not damaging the ozone layers. They used to but countries have agreed to use different gases – propellants – which don’t affect the ozone. There are other things which humans make that do though. High flying passenger jet aircraft inject an unpleasant cocktail of exhaust gases into the stratosphere which is where most of the ozone is located. These include nitrogen oxides which catalyse ozone destruction making flying one of the most polluting of human activities,


Pollution of streams and rivers2020-05-11T06:12:07+00:00

I am in charge of getting some information on stream and river polution for a big semenar kind of thing, and I ran across your site. Do you think that you would have any other information on polution in water. I live in Iowa so we are doing a lot on manure running out of fields into tributaries, and on pestisides in water. Note: We are only 6th graders so nothing too fancy please! Thankz in advance, Katester (and all the other 6th graders!)

This is a massive subject as I’m sure you know. A good place to start is Tox Town. Then there are the links at the end of my pollution guide which you might find helpful.

Marine pollution2020-05-11T05:51:48+00:00

Hello. We are doing a project about sea pollution at school since we are an eco school, so, have you any ideas and pictures about this please? Anything would help us thanks. 9 year-old pupils from Malta.

Hello pupils from Malta Have you tried following the links from my pollution guide (at the end)? Here’s one of the best: National Geographic

Messy neighbours2020-05-11T05:40:33+00:00

Hi, Tiki My name is Bailey and I am twelve. Well I need some help. My neighbors always litter in there yard. I want to tell them it’s nasty, but I don’t want to be mean. How do I tell them?

Not easy, is it! Perhaps the best way to get the message over is to show them how clean and tidy your yard is and how much fun you get from it being like that. Much better to be positive!

What is the most polluting type of factory?2020-05-11T05:37:12+00:00

alright, i was just wondering. what is the kind of factory that pollutes the most

Difficult to say. Some pollutants are much more dangerous than others. Probably an older coal-fired power station would be the worst.

There pollution in the house2020-05-11T05:28:33+00:00

Hey! I am doing a report on the causes of air pollution and I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me! What in a house causes the most pollution? How does hairspray pollute the air??? Thank You!

What in a house causes the most pollution? It depends on the house. Usually it is the heating or air conditioning because they use lots of energy which causes pollution. How does hairspray pollute the air? It is smelly! Sometimes the propellants can be polluting – the compressed gas that drives the spray out when you press the button. If anyone who lives in this house smokes cigarettes or cigars, side stream smoke can be a serious and damaging form of pollution for those unfortunate enough to have to live with smokers.

Acid rain2020-05-11T05:17:46+00:00

hey my name is emily and i am doing a report on the effect of air pollution on plants and i needed youf help. i want to know everything you know about pollution and plants

Almost everything I know about pollution is in my guide. I am going to add more to my guide very soon. To find out more, try following some of the links at the end of the guide. Here are some quick ideas though: air pollution is usually sulphur dioxide – SO2, and nitrogen oxides – NOx (from burning coal and oil). Ozone also forms in smogs. When it rains, these sulphur and nitrogen oxides, which are gases, dissolve in the raindrops to form acids (sulphuric and nitric acids). It is these that directly damage the plant leaves. Hope that helps a little.

Which is better, car or plane?2020-05-11T13:17:21+00:00

Pollution and travel: Tiki i have a question ! If I wanted to travel to Calgary from North vancouver B.C which would be less harmless to the environment ? To fly or to drive ????????

The best thing would be to not go at all! Why are people always wanting to travel about? But that does not answer your question. The answer to some extent depends on how many people are travelling and the size of the car. The more people in the car the better and the more fuel-efficient the car the better too. But travelling by car produces less pollution than travelling by air, particularly for relatively short flights. A better way would be to go by bus or train because these forms of transport are less polluting than cars.

Ask a question

Do you have a question which I haven’t answered in my guides or on my Questions pages? Do you think I could help you understand something you can’t find out for yourself? If you do, just fill in the form below to send me your question. I promise I’ll reply to all serious questions. (That means I won’t reply to silly ones! I haven’t got time.). PLEASE be sure to tell me your first name, your age and the country you live in. And pleeeease do let me know if my answer helped! And sorry, but I can’t do your schoolwork or homework for you! That’s for you clever kids to get sorted. simple penguinRemember, I’m just a simple penguin.

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