AP Environmental Science Test: Pollution

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Question 1
Consumption of which hazardous material is known to affect the thyroid gland?

A
Lead
B
DDT
C
Mercury
D
Perchlorates
E
PCBs
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Consumption of perchlorates is known to affect the thyroid gland by inhibiting the absorption of iodide and reducing thyroid hormone production. This lack of hormone inhibits the optimal function of the human body. The other hazardous materials mentioned here are deleterious to the human body, but are not known to specifically impede the function of the thyroid gland.
Question 2
The legislation that sets the national standards for safe drinking water is known as the:

A
Clean Water Act.
B
Safe Drinking Water Act.
C
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
D
Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
E
Water Quality Act.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The Safe Drinking Water Act sets the national standards for safe drinking water. The Clean Water Act is legislation that supports the “protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water” by maintaining and when necessary, restoring the chemical, physical, and biological properties of surface waters. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the principal federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act was the first major piece of legislation affecting water quality. The Water Quality Act protects and ensures the quality of surface and ground waters.
Question 3
Which of the following is an example of a secondary pollutant?

A
Ozone
B
Carbon Monoxide
C
Carbon Dioxide
D
Sulfur Dioxide
E
Nitrogen Dioxide
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Secondary pollutants are defined as pollutants that have undergone transformation in the presence of sunlight, water, or oxygen. Ozone is an example of a secondary pollutant because it results from a chemical reaction between two primary pollutants: nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds, in the presence of sunlight. The other answer choices are all examples of primary pollutants.
Question 4
Which of the following is NOT one of the specific causes of Sick Building Syndrome identified by the EPA?

A
Inadequate or faulty ventilation.
B
Chemical contamination from indoor sources such as glues, carpeting, furniture, cleaning agents, and copy machines.
C
Chemical contamination in the building from outdoor sources such as vehicle exhaust transferred through the air intakes for the building.
D
Ultraviolet light in ventilation system.
E
Biological contamination from inside or outside, such as molds and pollen.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Four of the five answer choices list specific causes of Sick Building Syndrome identified by the EPA. Ultraviolet light in ventilation systems is actually a possible remedy for the symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome, and not a contributing cause.
Question 5
Concentrated animal feeding operations typically use manure lagoons to collect the manure produced by the cattle that are being held. If an individual animal produces 50 L of manure each day and the average concentrated animal feeding operation holds 800 cattle on any given day, how large must the lagoon be to hold 30 days’ worth of manure?

A
40,000 L
B
400,000 L
C
800,000 L
D
1,200,000 L
E
1,600,000 L
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Each individual animal produces 50 L of manure, and there are 800 total cattle, so the total daily manure production = 50L/animal * 800 animals = 40,000 L.

If 40,000 L is produced EACH day, then the volume of manure produced in 30 days = 40,000L/day *30 days = 1,200,000 L.
Question 6
What is the purpose of the leachate collection system in a modern sanitary landfill?

A
Extract methane produced for use as fuel.
B
Prevent additional water from entering the landfill.
C
Remove water and contaminants for treatment at a wastewater treatment plant.
D
Impede water flow from the landfill and retain positively charge ions such as metals.
E
Aerate the landfill to speed up decomposition of municipal solid waste.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Recall that a leachate is a liquid that absorbs and carries particles of a material through which it passes. In a modern sanitary landfill, the leachate collection system’s function is to remove water and contaminants and transport them to a wastewater treatment plant.
Question 7
The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 by 24 countries to regulate:

A
substances that cause air pollution.
B
substances that deplete the ozone layer.
C
indoor air quality.
D
the amount of smog in ppm in the air.
E
the amount of water pollution.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The Montreal Protocol was a global effort designed to regulate substances that diminish the ozone layer. This has been a successful international agreement, and the ozone hole over Antarctica is slowly recovering. It is projected that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels sometime between 2050 and 2070.
Question 8
Which of the following is the most controversial method for oil spill cleanup?

A
Contain the spill using booms, and collect the oil from the surface of the water using skimmers.
B
Use chemical dispersants to break down the oil.
C
Add biological agents to the spill.
D
Let the oil breakdown naturally.
E
Vacuum and centrifuge.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Dispersants act by reducing the surface tension that stops oil and water from mixing. Smaller droplets of oil are then formed, which helps promote rapid dilution of the oil by water movements. In theory this allows the oil to be more rapidly degraded by bacteria (bioremediation) and prevents it from accumulating on beaches and in marshes. However, studies have indicated that chemical dispersants are toxic to marine life. A dispersant called Corexit was used in unprecedented quantities during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This was highly controversial and the long-term environmental effects of this are still being examined.
Question 9
The process of recycling a product into the same product is known as:

A
solid waste recycling
B
open-loop recycling
C
closed-loop recycling
D
recombinant recycling
E
reuse recycling
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Recycling processes are broadly classified into two categories: open-loop recycling and closed-loop recycling. With closed-loop recycling, end-of-life products are recycled into the same product. An example of closed-loop recycling is a used aluminum can that is recycled into a new aluminum can.

Open-loop recycling is the process where material from one or more products is made into a new product, usually involving a change in the material itself. For instance, recycled plastic packaging might be used to make outdoor furniture.
Question 10
Superfund is the common name given to which federal law?

A
The Clean Air Act.
B
The Clean Water Act.
C
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
D
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
E
The Endangered Species Act.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Passed in 1980, Superfund was designed to clean up sites that were contaminated with hazardous waste. It is also known as CERCLA.
Question 11
Electronic waste such as cathode ray tube televisions and computer monitors may contain this toxic metal.

A
Cadmium
B
Aluminum
C
Copper
D
Titanium
E
Silicon
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors may contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Question 12
Which Act is the principal federal law governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste?

A
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
B
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
C
Toxic Substances Control Act
D
Occupational Safety and Health Act
E
National Environmental Policy Act
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Enacted in 1976, the RCRA set federal standards for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste in the United States.
Question 13
Which program was created by the EPA to assist state and local governments in cleaning up contaminated industrial and commercial land that did not achieve conditions necessary to be in the Superfund category?

A
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
B
RE-Powering America's Land Initiative
C
Greener Cleanup Initiative
D
The Brownfields Program
E
Smart Growth Program
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The EPA's Brownfields Program began in 1995. The program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, and others to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. Cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfields can protect human health and the environment, reduce blight, and take development pressures off of greenspaces and working lands.
Question 14
The increasing concentration of a toxic substance in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels of the food chain is known as:

A
Biomagnification
B
Bioaccumulation
C
Biodilution
D
Bioconcentration
E
Biocide
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Biomagnification occurs across food chain levels when a producer or primary consumer ingests a toxic substance and is in turn consumed by a predator. At each level of the food chain, the concentration of the toxic substance increases. Bioaccumulation and Bioconcentration occur within an organism. Biodilution is the opposite of biomagnification.
Question 15
Which of the following is considered a point source of water pollution?

A
Sewage treatment plant discharging wastewater form a pipe into the ocean
B
Erosion from agricultural areas
C
Storm runoff from parking lots
D
Fertilizers from a golf course
E
Excessive use of insecticides from a timber stand
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Point sources of pollution come from a distinct point of entry into a water body. Nonpoint sources come from more diffuse, large-spread areas of residential, agricultural or urban areas.
Question 16
Which of the following sources of hazardous substances contaminates water when drinking water passes through pipes in older homes and can potentially damage the nervous system and kidneys?

A
Arsenic
B
Lead
C
Mercury
D
Acid deposition
E
Synthetic Organic Compounds
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Lead is a heavy metal and a serious health threat. It is rarely found in natural water sources. Its main source is lead-lined pipes of older homes, brass fittings containing lead, and materials, such as solder, that are used to fasten pipes together.
Question 17
Which type of carcinogenic synthetic organic compound were manufactured in plastics and insulating electrical transformers until 1979, and even though they are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still present in the environment?

A
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
B
Perchlorates
C
Polychlorinated biphenyls
D
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers
E
Pharmaceuticals
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are a group of industrial compounds that have caused many environmental problems. Until 1979 they were manufactured in plastics and insulating electrical transformers. Even though they are not longer manufactured, they are still present in the environment because of their long-term persistence.

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, is an insecticide designed to target nerve transmissions in pests. It was found that DDT moved up the aquatic food chain all the way up to eagles, causing eagles’ to produce thin shells that broke before the embryo developed.

Perchlorates are used for rocket fuel, and are easily leached from contaminated soil into the groundwater where they can persist for many years. Perchlorates can affect the thyroid gland and reduce important hormone production.

Polybrominated diphenyl (PBDEs) ethers are flame retardants added to a variety of items including construction materials, furniture and clothing. Since the 1990s, scientists have been detecting them in fish, aquatic birds and human breast milk. Exposure to some types of PBDEs can lead to brain damage. Several states, including Washington and California, have banned the manufacture of several types of PBDEs. Pharmaceuticals are not components of plastics and insulating electrical transformers.
Question 18
Which of the following contributes to thermal pollution?

A
Geothermal energy production
B
Hydroelectric energy production
C
Cultural eutrophication
D
Electric power plants
E
Heat islands
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Electric power plants use water for cooling to cool the steam converted from water back to water again. This is done by bringing in cold water from river, lakes or oceans to cool the steam. The water is then returned back to nature at a significantly warmer temperature. Hydroelectric energy production does not create thermal pollution. Geothermal energy production uses the energy from the earth to heat homes. Cultural eutrophication is the process of nutrients polluting surface water and the cascade of events that follow. Heat islands are urban areas that are up to 10°F warmer that surrounding areas.
Question 19
Which air pollutant bonds to hemoglobin, resulting in reduced air transport in the bloodstream?

A
Sulfur dioxide
B
Nitrogen oxides
C
Carbon monoxide
D
Carbon dioxide
E
Ozone
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Carbon monoxide is released from the incomplete the combustion of any kind. Carbon monoxide bonds to hemoglobin, interfering with oxygen transport in the bloodstream. It causes headaches in low concentrations and death in higher concentrations. Sulfur dioxide is a byproduct of combustion of fuels that contain sulfur, including coal, oil and gasoline. It is a respiratory irritant, harmful to plants, and contributes to acid precipitation. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, affecting climates and increasing greenhouse gasses. Ozone is a secondary pollutant formed by the combination of sunlight, water, oxygen, VOCs and NOx.
Question 20
What group of organisms is most affected by acid deposition?

A
Amphibians
B
Terrestrial mammals
C
Water fowl
D
Reptiles
E
Birds of prey
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Most amphibians cannot survive in water that has a pH less than 6.0. Amphibians are affected by acidity because they absorb water through their skin.
Question 21
Which of the following indoor air pollutants is a type of radioactive gas that seeps into a home through cracks in the foundation or soil, and may cause lung cancer?

A
Asbestos
B
Carbon monoxide
C
Radon
D
VOCs
E
Mercury
Question 21 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Radon is a radioactive gas that results from the decay of uranium. It seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation or soil. Human exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. Asbestos is a material used in insulation, and causes respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Carbon monoxide, in addition to being an outdoor air pollutant, can also be an indoor air pollutant. Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin more efficiently than oxygen, and reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are used in building materials, furniture and other home products and is suspected to be carcinogenic. Mercury is a neurotoxin, which can damage the brain, kidneys, liver and immune system.
Question 22
Which piece of legislation was the first that addressed air pollution as a national problem and announced that research and additional steps to improve the situation needed to be taken?

A
Air Pollution Control Act
B
Clean Air Act
C
National Environmental Policy Act
D
Pollution Prevention Act
E
U.S.- Canada Air Quality Agreement
Question 22 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The Air Pollution Control Act was passed in 1955. The Clean Air Act was passed in 1963 was designed to control air pollution on a national level. The National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1970 and created the Environmental Protection Agency. The Pollution Prevention Act was passed in 1990 and requires industries to reduce air pollution at its source. The U.S.- Canada Air Quality Agreement is an agreement between the United States and Canada regarding acid rain.
Question 23
What is a heat island?

A
Pockets of air where thermal inversion occurs
B
Islands that are heated by warm water from electric power plants
C
Urban areas that are significantly warmer than their surroundings due to the presence of concrete and other impervious surfaces
D
Deserted areas designated for long term storage of nuclear waste
E
Islands in the Pacific Ocean heated by geothermal vents
Question 23 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Heat islands occur in metropolitan areas that are significantly warmer than their surrounds. They can be up to 10°F warmer than their surroundings, and change the weather downwind by increasing rainfall as much as 30% downwind of cities. Heat islands occur because of the greater use of black asphalt and other building materials that absorb heat, increased use of impervious surfaces, lack of vegetation and standing water, and human activities such as use of automobiles, air conditioners and industry.
Question 24
During the process of sewage treatment, which stage removes large objects, such as leaves, rages, and trash?

A
Primary Treatment
B
Secondary Treatment
C
Tertiary Treatment
D
Filtration
E
Raking
Question 24 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Primary treatment removes large objects. Secondary treatment uses microorganisms to break down and consume the organic matter in the sewage. Tertiary treatment is a chemical treatment that disinfects the water to destroy pathogens. Filtration and raking is not a stages of sewage treatment.
Question 25
Which piece of legislation prohibits the dumping of material into the ocean that would unreasonably degrade or engender human health or the marine environment?

A
National Environmental Policy Act
B
Clean Water Act
C
Safe Drinking Water Act
D
Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
E
Oil Spill Prevention and Liability Act
Question 25 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (AKA Ocean Dumping Act) was passed in 1972, and prohibits ocean dumping. The National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1969, and required all federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements that outline potential environmental effects of proposed federal agency actions. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, and established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974, and established standards for safe drinking water in the US. The Oil Spill Prevention and Liability Act strengthened the EPA’s ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic oil spills.
Question 26
Which group of harmful chemicals interfere with normal functioning of hormones in an animal’s body?

A
Neurotoxins
B
Carcinogens
C
Endocrine Disruptors
D
Teratogens
E
Allergens
Question 26 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in an animal’s body. Neurotoxins are chemicals that disrupt the nervous systems of animals. Carcinogens are chemicals that cause cancer. Terotogens are chemicals that interfere with the normal development of embryos or fetuses. Allergens are chemicals that cause allergic reactions.
Question 27
Which piece of legislation gave the EPA the authority to track industrial chemicals produced within or imported into the United States?

A
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
B
Toxic Substances Control Act
C
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
D
Nuclear Waste Policy Act
E
National Environmental Policy Act
Question 27 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The Toxic Substances Control Act was passed in 1976 and gave the EAP the authority to track industrial chemical produced within or imported into the United States.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was passed in 1976 and encouraged states to develop comprehensive plans to manage nonhazardous industrial solid and municipal wastes.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act provided authority for the federal government to respond to releases or possible releases of hazardous substances that could threaten public health and/or the environment.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act was passed in 1982 and established federal authority to provide locations for permanent disposal of high-level radioactive wastes and required the operators of nuclear power to pay the costs of permanent disposal.

The National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1969, and required all federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements that outline potential environmental effects of proposed federal agency actions.
Question 28
Which of the following is an example of solid waste pollution?

A
Sediment
B
Oil
C
Mercury
D
Synthetic Organic Compounds
E
Garbage
Question 28 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Solid waste includes materials discarded from homes and industries that do not pose a toxic hazard to organisms.
Question 29
Which ingredient was removed from gasoline, and has significantly reduced the amount found in the atmosphere?

A
Carbon monoxide
B
Nitrogen oxide
C
Organic compounds
D
Heptanes
E
Lead
Question 29 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Since lead was removed from gasoline, there has been a significant decline in lead found in the atmosphere.
Question 30
What is a concentration of 20 ppm equivalent to?

A
0.2%
B
0.02%
C
0.002%
D
0.0002%
E
0.00002%
Question 30 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). To change ppm (parts per million) to a percentage, simple move the decimal place four places to the left and add a % sign.
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