“Flaring” is a natural gas that surfaces with the oil and burned off when it reaches the top causing air pollution, acid rain and accelerates climate change. Oil production is on a rise and there are not enough pipelines to carry off the natural gas. In 2008 107 flaring permits were granted and increased to 651 permits in 2011. The increase is dangerous and causes health risks because Flaring releases nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and other emissions into the atmosphere.
Nitrogen oxide can travel long distances, and can cause a variety of health and environmental problems in locations far from their emissions source. Sulfur oxide refers to many types of sulfur and oxygen containing compounds. It is a colorless gas that can be detected by taste and smell. Very high concentrations of sulfur oxide are believed to cause most of the health and vegetation damages attributable to sulfur emissions.
Exposure to sulfur oxide in the ambient air has been associated with reduced lung function, increase incidence of respiratory symptoms and diseases, irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and sometimes fatal. Children, the elderly, and those already suffering from respiratory ailments, such as asthmatics, are especially at risk. Sulfur oxide dissolves in the watery fluids of the upper respiratory system and absorbed into the bloodstream. Sulfur oxide can also be carried deep into the pulmonary system.
Sulfur oxide emissions may cause adverse impacts to vegetation, including forests and agricultural crops. The plants lose their foliage and become less productive, or die prematurely. Some species are much more sensitive to exposure than others. Impacts on forest ecosystems vary greatly according to soil type, plant species, atmospheric conditions, insect populations, and other factors that are not well understood. Agricultural crops such as Alfalfa and rye grass are especially sensitive.
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