NASA finds 39 human-made sources of ‘major’ unreported pollution

Brittany A. Roston - Jun 1, 2016, 7:02pm CDT
NASA finds 39 human-made sources of ‘major’ unreported pollution

NASA has announced that researchers with the space agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and a couple universities have discovered 39 sources of unreported pollution, and they’re all caused by humans. The discoveries were made “using a satellite-based method,” NASA said in a statement today, and they all involve toxic sulfur dioxide emissions, which helps contribute to acid rain among other things.

The unreported sources of pollution were found using satellite data gathered from 2005 through 2014; they are located in Russia, Mexico, and mostly in the Middle East, and result from places like smelters, power plants burning coal, and facilities related to gas and oil work.

As well, some reported pollution sources in these locations were found to be outputting more pollution than they had reported, with NASA saying there are some that are double or triple the given numbers. In addition to these human points of pollution, researchers found 75 “natural sources of SO2,” such as leaky volcanoes in rural places.

Dealing with the unreported sources of pollution would help put a big dent in sulfur dioxide levels, however. According to NASA, these 39 sources are producing approximately 12-percent of the man-made SO2 emissions, a substantial percentage for such a relatively small number of operations. If allowed to continue operating at their current levels, the facilities will contribute greatly to environmental issues in the local regions, as well, degrading the quality of life for everyone nearby.

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