Humanity and the Weather

Air Pollution

Is air pollution destroying our architectural history?

Yes. Many important buildings and monuments around the world are slowly being destroyed by air pollution and acid rain. The famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India, for instance, is turning from white to yellow because of pollution from car exhaust, so the local government has banned automobile traffic from coming closer than 1.25 miles (two kilometers). In other locales, the Sphinx in Egypt and the Parthenon in Greece are both being eaten away by acid rains. The acids are produced by sulfur dioxide mixing with water to form sulfuric acid solutions. This is particularly damaging to structures built from limestone and sandstone—common materials used by many civilizations throughout history—which are turned into powdery gypsum as a result. Over time, layers of building material crumble and turn to dust.


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