Air pollution

What is Air Pollution? Air is the ocean we breathe. Air supplies us with oxygen which is essential for our bodies to live. Air is 99.9% nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Human activities can release substances into the air, some of which can cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.

There are several main types of pollution and well-known effects of pollution which are commonly discussed. These include smog, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and "holes" in the ozone layer. Each of these problems has serious implications for our health and well-being as well as for the whole environment.

One type of air pollution is the release of particles into the air from burning fuel for energy. Diesel smoke is a good example of this particulate matter . The particles are very small pieces of matter measuring about 2.5 microns or about .0001 inches. This type of pollution is sometimes referred to as "black carbon" pollution. The exhaust from burning fuels in automobiles, homes, and industries is a major source of pollution in the air. Some authorities believe that even the burning of wood and charcoal in fireplaces and barbeques can release significant quanitites of soot into the air.

Another type of pollution is the release of noxious gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere, forming smog and acid rain.

Pollution also needs to be considered inside our homes, offices, and schools. Some of these pollutants can be created by indoor activities such as smoking and cooking. In the United States, we spend about 80-90% of our time inside buildings, and so our exposure to harmful indoor pollutants can be serious. It is therefore important to consider both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Air Pollution Causes and Effects
Causes of Air Pollution:
Carbon dioxide is one the main pollutants that causes air pollution. This is because, although living beings do exhale carbon dioxide, this gas is harmful when emitted from other sources, which are caused due to human activity. An additional release of carbon dioxide happens due to various such activities. Carbon dioxide gas is used in various industries such as the oil industry and the chemical industry. The manufacturing process of most products would require the use of this gas. There are various human activities that add to the increased proportions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The combustion of fossil fuels and the harmful effects of deforestation have all contributed towards the same. show that amongst the various gasses emitted during a volcanic eruption, carbon dioxide remains to be at least 40% of the emission. Scientists have now therefore identified carbon dioxide as one of those elements that have contributed to global warming.

Causes of air pollution are not limited to this. The combustion of fuels in automobiles, jet planes etc all cause the release of several primary pollutants into the air. The burning of fossil fuels in big cities which is seen at most factories, offices and even a large number of homes, it is no wonder that air pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. The release of other harmful gases all adds to the state that we see today. Although carbon dioxide plays an important role in various other processes like photosynthesis, breathing an excess of the same also causes harmful effects towards one’s health.

The various causes of air pollution that releases harmful gases into the atmosphere are caused due to the increasing number of power plants and manufacturing units or industries that mostly have activities related to the burning of fuels. Besides, as mentioned earlier, most automobiles, marine vessels, activities that involve the burning of wood, fumes that are released from aerosol sprays, military activities that involve the use of nuclear weapons, all are the numerous causes of air pollution.

Carbon monoxide is another such gas which, although was present in the atmosphere earlier, is now considered to be a major pollutant. An excess of the same has a harmful effect on our system. There are many reasons why carbon monoxide can be released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. This is also produced due to any fuel burning appliance and appliances such as gas water heaters, fireplaces, woodstoves, gas stoves, gas dryers, yard equipments as well as automobiles, which add to the increased proportion of this gas into the atmosphere.

Sulfur dioxide is yet another harmful pollutant that causes air pollution. Sulfur dioxide is emitted largely to the excessive burning of fossil fuels, petroleum refineries, chemical and coal burning power plants etc. Nitrogen dioxide when combined with sulfur dioxide can even cause a harmful reaction in the atmosphere that can cause acid rain.

Nitrogen dioxide is one more gas that is emitted into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities. An excess of nitrogen dioxide mainly happens due to most power plants seen in major cities, the burning of fuels due to various motor vehicles and other such sources, whether industrial or commercial that cause the increase in the levels of nitrogen dioxide.

These and a number of other hazardous air pollutants are emitted with the various numbers of activities that we carry out during the day which are the main causes of air pollution.

Effects of Air pollution

Air pollution is responsible for major health effects.  Every year, the health of countless people is ruined or endangered by air pollution.

Many different chemicals in the air affect the human body in negative ways.  Just how sick people will get depends on what chemicals they are exposed to, in what concentrations, and for how long.

Studies have estimated that the number of people killed annually in the US alone could be over 50,000.

Older people are highly vulnerable to diseases induced by air pollution.  Those with heart or lung disorders are under additional risk.  Children and infants are also at serious risk.

Because people are exposed to so many potentially dangerous pollutants, it is often hard to know exactly which pollutants are responsible for causing sickness.  Also, because a mixture of different pollutants can intensify sickness, it is often difficult to isolate those pollutants that are at fault.

Many diseases could be caused by air pollution without their becoming apparent for a long time.  Diseases such as bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease may all eventually appear in people exposed to air pollution.

Air pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide also have harmful effects on natural ecosystems.  They can kill plants and trees by destroying their leaves, and can kill animals, especially fish in highly polluted rivers

How you can help to prevent Air Pollution:
  • Carpool- This will help to reduce the number of vehicles on the already congested roads.
  • Always keep your car tuned properly so that it remains in a good condition.
  • Save energy- Try to use minimum amounts of natural gas and even electricity. Whenever possible, avoid the use of air conditioner and use a fan instead.
  • Always buy recycled products.
  • Reuse things such as paper and plastic bags, paper etc. This will contribute a lot towards reducing the effects of air pollution and global warming.
  • Avoid the use of firecrackers. You don’t really need it to express your feeling of happiness.
  • Go in for water-based paints instead of varnishes.
  • If you really cannot avoid using your car, plan your work systematically to reduce air pollution.
The causes of air pollution can be many to name if one really scrutinizes this subject closely. With a little effort from our side, we can help to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution so that we can breathe in a clean and healthy environment.