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Products from Oil

How does Oil affect the Environment?

Fossil fuels are burnt on a huge scale.

The Release of Particles.

The burning of fossil fuels releases particles into the air.
These particles (sometimes called particulates) contain mainly
carbon atoms and come from unburnt hydrocarbons.
The particles are a pollutant and health hazard which cause
breathing problems for people who suffer from asthma.
Some of these particles are very small (see nanoparticles).

What is Global Dimming?

The particles have two effects on the temperature of the
environment. High up in the atmosphere they absorb some
of the energy from the Sun and prevent it from reaching
the Earth's surface. This is called global dimming and has
a cooling effect on the climate. Scientists have evidence that
particles in the atmosphere have this effect. Big volcanoes
erupting in the past have put a lot of particles high up
into the atmosphere and have had a global cooling effect.

The particles also cause an increase in the rate of water
in the atmosphere condensing to form clouds. Clouds
reflect some of the Sun's energy back into space. An
increase in the rate of cloud formation also has a cooling effect.

The cooling effect from particles in the atmosphere is small
compared to the effect of global warming from burning
fossil fuels
. The particles eventually fall out of the atmosphere
back down to the ground and make surfaces darker.

Particle emissions from industrial chimneys
can be reduced by using an electrostatic charge.

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