There’s nothing quite like opening the door and breathing fresh, clean, air—but do you think that the air you’re breathing right now is clean and fresh?
Air pollution is known as the presence of toxic chemicals or compounds , including those of biological origin in the air. They are at levels that pose a health risk. To explain further, air pollution means the presence of chemicals or compounds in the air which are usually not present and which lower the quality of the air or cause detrimental changes to the quality of life (such as causing the damage of the ozone layer and cause global warming).
What is Smog and soot?
Two most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog, or “ground-level ozone,” occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot, or “particulate matter,” is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens, in the form of gas or solids, that are carried in the air. The sources of smog and soot are similar. “Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines—anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gas, or natural gas,”.
Effect on Humans
The tiniest airborne particles in soot—whether they’re in the form of gas or solids—are especially dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death. Because of smog we feel irritation in the eyes and throat and it may also damage the lungs—especially of people who work or exercise outside, children, and senior citizens. For people who have asthma or allergies these extra pollutants only intensify their symptoms and can trigger asthma attacks.
What are the causes of Air Pollution?
Contributing to air pollution are the processes that produces substances that are small and light enough to be carried in air, or are gases themselves. These can be from natural or man-made sources and occur all at once or slowly over time. These sources can be limited to a small area, such as industrial complexes, or come from multiple producers, such as vehicles. They can be indoor or outdoor, and even if pollutants are present, as long as they do not exceed safe limits set by organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , they do not pose threat to health.
Combustion from Industry
Industrial processes produces many common air pollutants . Some of these are produced by combustion of fossil fuels that drive the industrial process, resulting in particulates, ozone and nitrogen oxides.
Common forms of transportation like cars, planes and ships generally use combustion to harness energy from fossil fuels. The combustion process releases pollutants into the air, such as particles and carbon monoxide, and also release substances that quickly form into nitrogen oxides and ozone, which are important air pollutants.
Machinery driven by fossil fuels to plough fields and harvest produce are used by farmers , and the animals that are raised in bulk for food also produce their own type of air pollution. Methane is a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect that allows global warming; it arises from intestinal gas released by livestock.
Particular air pollutant profiles are produced by specific industries , and the major source of metal pollution like lead is metal smelting, although niche uses of lead, such as in the manufacture of certain aviation fuels, also contribute.
Aerosols and CFCs
Major cause of ozone layer destruction are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in aerosols , and their production was banned in the United States in 1995. Despite such bans worldwide, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says CFCs can last for a century in the atmosphere, where they continue to do damage. The ozone layer helps shield the planet from dangerous ultraviolet rays.
It is commonly the job of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal to keep homes warm. Their combustion means that heating is an important source of air pollutants like sulphur dioxide. If electricity is used to heat the house, the energy plants that produced it may also have been driven by fossil fuels.
The energy used in cooking may have come from energy plants, in which case the potential for air pollution has arisen earlier. In developing countries, direct burning of wood or coals is required for home cooking , which produces the particulate pollution at the point of use.
Forest fires release pollutants into the air similar to the way as fireplaces burning wood produce pollution. They produce fine smoke particles, which, according to the EPA, are small enough to be able to get into the lungs and damage the lungs and the heart.
In the developing world, homes have visible smoke coming from the fire that is used to cook and heat the home. In the developed world, tobacco smoke is usually the only visible type of air pollution inside the house. Both of the indoor smokes are related to respiratory diseases.
The Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
Air pollution has grave effects on the human health. Depending on the level of contact and the type of pollutant inhaled, these effects vary, ranging from simple symptoms like coughing to severe conditions like asthma and chronic lung diseases.
Prolonged exposure to several air pollutants can cause skin problems and irritations and a variety of cancer forms may develop after inhaling air contaminants. Do not neglect potential diseases caused by air pollution.
Let’s start discussing the harmful effects of air pollution now that we know its causes. There are many diverse effects that can be caused by air pollution . For one, there’s the human health factor to consider. Along with humans other forms of wildlife and organic creatures are in danger as well. It also has bad effects on the planet and its atmosphere.
- Accelerated Global Warming.
We know that Ozone layer has a great role in protecting our planet. Air pollution directly accelerates the rate at which global warming happens by the depletion of the Ozone layer. Global warming refers to the increased temperatures Earth continues to experience. This rising temperature leads to the melting of the polar ice caps and icebergs, which elevates sea levels and creates concern for the human population.
- Human Respiratory and Heart Concerns.
Air pollution cause irritation in the eyes, lungs, nose, and throat. It creates respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema. It makes breathing difficult. Nowadays we can very well see the problem of Asthma in kids also. With the continuous exposure to air pollution, risk for cardiovascular disease also increases. Toxins filled air have a number of adverse effects on the arteries, and may contribute to heart attacks.
- Wildlife Endangerment.
Along with humans , animals are also susceptible to most diseases and conditions. Because of heavy pollution inhabitants has to seek new homes, which negatively impact the ecosystem. Toxic chemicals also deposit over surfaces of water that can lead to the endangerment of marine life animals.
- Acid Rain.
When air pollution, specifically sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, are released into sky beacuse of the burning of fossil fuel creates the phenomenon known as acid rain. Water, present in the atmosphere, combines with these chemicals and becomes acidic in nature. It then scatters the ground, disguised as normal rainfall.
How to Help Reduce Air Pollution
Now we will explore the common solutions for preventing and minimizing air pollution.
- Minimize the Use of Fossil Fuel Powered Automobiles.
Because Petrol and diesel are one of the major contributor to air pollution, it only makes sense that a vehicle-based solution appears first on this list. One way to do this is to switch to a hybrid vehicle, or better yet, one that runs on fully electric. Other ways include taking public transportation, carpooling with friends and colleagues, or even riding a bike to your destination.
- Be Mindful of Energy Consumption.
Fossil fuel plants are a major cause of air pollutants, and the less energy you need, the less we have to rely on those plants to produce electricity. We should turn to energy efficient devices whenever possible. Fluorescent light bulbs can reduce energy consumption over the course of their lifespan and add significant savings to your pocket.
- Become an Advocate for Clean Energy.
Every day, technology continues to progress and improves the efficiency and cost of clean energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Much less air pollution is created by these energy sources. Even nuclear energy is better than traditional fossil fuel plants when it comes to air pollution. We should promote and educate the public on clean energy alternatives.
- Use of Renewable or Green Energy Sources
The main contributors to air pollution are fossil fuels and coal. A practical solution to air pollution is opting for alternative or renewable energy sources to produce power. Other energy sources include wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, and hydro-power. Air pollution can reduce more than threefold if people can exploit a variety of these energy sources instead of relying on fossil fuels or coal energy.
The use of fossil fuels as cleaner energy sources can be substituted by natural gas, fuel cells, and batteries. Some of these alternative energy sources come with different environmental and economic costs, so it is important to assess them correctly. Investing more in renewable and sustainable energy sources reduces pollution at the same time protects the future.
Recycling is an another topic of heated debates. Wherever you stand on the subject, It can help reduce air pollution. Try reusing or recycling used containers and material instead of throwing them away. We can re-use to-go containers from restaurants as plastic ware for work lunches.