Air Pollution 101: What It Is, What Causes It, and How to Stop It

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Air Pollution 101: What It Is, What Causes It, and How to Stop It

An overwhelming concern of the modern world, air pollution is the aftermath of unplanned industrialization and use of the natural resources as fuel and energy. It leaves the world at risk that is greater than we can imagine.

As humans have progressed in industry and technology, our environment hasn’t really welcomed the change per se. Since we have impregnated Mother Nature with unnatural substances, the hazardous impact is seen in the form of diseases, natural calamities and excessive vulnerability of animal and marine life.  Air pollution means contamination of air by toxic compounds that affect the quality of the air we breathe in. It has badly impacted the ozone layer which has also given rise to global warming.

Causes of Air Pollution

Most air pollution is caused by human activities that have notably resulted in the commencement of industrialization. Other reasons include construction, oil spill, agriculture and the use of transportation. Natural causes like volcanic eruptions, wildfire, and deforestation are also to blame but their impact is significantly lower than that resulting from human activity. Besides, these natural processes are likely to have limited impact on a local level only whereas industrial activities are so devastating that they cause the greenhouse gases which are so dangerous that they have contributed to global warming.

Types of Air Pollution:

Air pollution exists in different forms. Mainly the pollutants in the air are:

  • Gases
  • Solid particles suspended in the air

Pollutants in gaseous form

In the gaseous form, the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are trapped in the air. The main reason for the emission of these gases is the burning of fossil fuels and the smoke emitted from industrial processes. Their effects are highly detrimental to human health and the overall environment as well. The rising temperature is due to these gases which tend to trap heat. This heat is warming up the globe and this is how the term “global warming” is coined. Other than these gases, aerosol particles are liquid and solid particles that form polluting clouds in the air.

Climatic conditions like floods also cause a release of allergic substances and diseases caused by high levels of contamination resulting from trash and water pollution.

Another air pollutant is smog which is the mixture of smoke and fog. It’s also referred to as ground-level ozone. When fossil fuels are burned and they go through a chemical process from the reaction with sunlight, smog is formed. 

Pollutants in solid form

Soot is a type of air pollutant which is in solid form. The particles of dust, allergens, chemical, and soil are left in the air which forms soot. Soot is also as hazardous as smog. It causes breathing problems and lung diseases.

Specifically, the dangerous air pollutants that are banned by most of the states include mercury, benzene, dioxins, and lead. Benzene is released in the air from petroleum and gasoline, whereas other substances i.e. mercury, dioxins and lead result from the burning of coal.

Particles of allergens carried by pollen and molds are also suspended in the air causing air pollution. Unfortunately, their existence in the air cannot be controlled by the states as they mostly result from natural processes. These allergens can be detrimental to human health. As per a number of case studies, they’re one of the prevailing causes of asthma.

Read Also: Basic Idea of Global Warming and Its Prevention

Facts about Air Pollution:

  • Inhaling polluted air reduces a person’s lifespan at least 1 to 2 years on average.
  • The effects of air pollution encompass trivial issues like burning eyes and itchy throat to problems that are as large as cancer and global destruction.
  • The effects of air pollution are more harmful than the effects of other kinds of pollution.
  • Air pollution is not just a recent phenomenon. In 1952, the Great Smog of London took away 8000 lives.
  • Deaths caused by air pollution is increasing the fastest in Asia.
  • Walking and riding a bicycle or other manually operated transportation vehicles are the best way to reduce air pollution on an individual level.
  • Taking a bus instead of a car can also reduce air pollution in a tremendous way.
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