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Environmental issues of ethene

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Environmental issues of ethene

  1. 1. Environmental Issues of Ethene:<br />Hazards of Use:<br />Ethene is relatively safe for use by humans. The main danger comes from the fact that it is highly flammable and explosive, particularly when gaseous. Ignited ethene can cause severe burns, blindness, and tinnitus. This is the same as with most explosions.<br />Liquid ethene should be used with care as it is very cold and can cause severe frostbite.<br />Gaseous ethene can be dangerous, as prolonged exposure to the gas can damage the brain. The human body cannot breathe if the atmosphere contains too much ethene. This is because humans need oxygen to breathe and as the concentration of ethene goes up the concentration of oxygen will of course go down. Excess gaseous ethene can cause light-headedness, dizziness, laboured breathing, unconsciousness, and suffocation. Ethene however does not have any known chronic effects from prolonged exposure or other such things. The many ways that ethene can be released into the environment include; from its production, cigarette smoke, waste incineration and vehicle exhausts.<br />Environmental Hazards:<br />In low concentrations ethene has no noticeable negative effects. However in medium to high concentrations it can affect the growth of plant life. Ethene acts as a ripening agent, it causes fruit to ripen more quickly and for leaves to age and fall of more rapidly than the usual rate. This has been used by various civilizations throughout time to hasten the ripening of fruit. However if the effects are prolonged, such as they would be when in the environment, the plants affected may become stunted or grow in odd ways. For example, it was discovered that trees near ethene leaks from street lamps suffered stunting of growth, twisting limbs, and thickening of stems. Unless the concentrations are very high ethene will not have any effect on wildlife and other animals. High concentrations of ethene can also damage rubber materials and affect human health. Although ethene has low environmental risk, it is recommended that it be disposed of through burning rather than releasing it straight into the atmosphere.<br />

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