Green Industry : Glossary

There are 76 documents in this section.

  • Fossil fuels

    22 August 2000

    Fuels such as coal, oil and gas made by decomposition of ancient animal and plant remains which give of carbon dioxide when burned.

  • Greenhouse effect

    22 August 2000

    The cause of global warming. Incoming solar radiation is transmitted by the atmosphere to the Earth's surface, which it warms. The energy is retransmitted as thermal radiation, but some of it is absorbed by molecules of greenhouse gases instead of being retransmitted out to space, causing the temperature of the atmosphere to rise. The name comes from the ability of greenhouse glass to transmit incoming solar radiation but retain some of the outgoing thermal radiation to warm the interior of the greenhouse. The 'natural' greenhouse effect is due to the greenhouse gases present for natural reasons, and is also observed for the neighbouring planets in the solar system. The 'enhanced' greenhouse effect is the added effect caused by the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere due to human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

  • Greenhouse gases

    22 August 2000

    Molecules in the Earth's atmosphere such a carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and CFCs which warm the atmosphere because they absorb some of the thermal radiation emitted from the earth's surface.

  • Organochlorides

    22 August 2000

    A group of organic compounds that contain chlorine (Cl). They have a variety of forms and uses including aerosol propellants, plasticisers, transformer coolants (PCBs) and food packaging (PCVs), but their greatest use was as pesticides, in the form of DDT, Aldrine and Lindane. However, with time many pests have developed immunity to them and it has also become clear that the characteristics that made them good pesticides - persistence, mobility and high biological activity - also posed dangers for the environment. Organochlorides accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, and through biomagnification in the food chain may reach toxic levels in predators. Because of side effects such as sterility, birth defects, cancer and damage to the nervous system, they have been banned or had their use severely restricted in most parts of the world.

  • Organophosphoruus compounds

    22 August 2000

    A group of pesticides that work by blocking the central nervous systems of the organisms exposed to them. Malathion and diazonon are the most commonly used organophosphates. They are highly effective against insects, but break down rapidly in the environment and do not bioaccumulate. For these reasons, they are preferred over organochloride pesticides. Although generally considered safer than the organochlorides, they are highly toxic to humans and other mammals and may be carcinogenic.

  • Dioxins

    21 August 2000

    A group of approximately 75 chlorinated hydrocarbons formed as by-products of chemical reactions involving chlorine (Cl) and hydrocarbons. Dioxins appear as manufacturing impurities in some herbicides, wood preservatives and disinfectants, and are released into the environment during the incineration of chlorine-based plastics or as a result of the chlorine bleaching process in the pulp and paper mills. They are also released in industrial processes such as steel making. Dioxins are persistent chemicals, accumulating in soil and human fatty tissue. Health effects are varied and complex, ranging from skin problems, such as chloracne, to cancers, birth defects and serious immunology, neurological and behavioural problems.