AP Environmental Science Practice 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
In the United States, nitrogen oxide emissions decreased from 22.6 million metric tons (25 million US tons) in 1990 to 17.2 million metric tons (19 million US tons) in 2005. What is the average annual percentage reduction for nitrogen oxides?

A
1.6%
B
2.4%
C
16%
D
24%
E
25%
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). To calculate the total percentage reduction from 1990 to 2005, we must find the difference between the original and final amounts, and divide that difference by the original amount:
P1
Number of years between 1990 and 2005:
2005 − 1990 = 15 years.

In order to find the average annual percentage reduction, divide the total percentage reduction by the number of years across which the reduction occurred:
P2
Question 9
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 9 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 10
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 10 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 11
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 11 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 12
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 12 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 13
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 13 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 14
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 14 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.
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