It’s not uncommon for people in Urban Cities to wake up in the morning and marvel at the Fog outside.
Except, it might just be a case of Air Pollution in the guise of Mist!
Rapidly developing countries are increasingly having to deal with Air Pollution, and the plethora of problems it brings. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Air Pollution is responsible for close to seven million deaths around the globe.
This article proposes to shed light on everything from the causes of Air Pollution, to the many hazardous effects it has on people. In today’s world, stories abound of people who have moved their residences to places that are less polluted, to escape the clutches of Air Pollution. We say ‘less polluted’, because, let’s face it, only the extremely remote parts of our Earth are entirely pollution-free.
Let’s begin, with an analysis of exactly What is Air Pollution.
Air Pollution: An Analysis
What is Air Pollution? Simply put, it refers to the release of pollutants into the Air. Pollutants that are detrimental to human health, and the planet as a whole.
These pollutants that are present in the air, can take many forms. They can be gases, solid particles or even liquid droplets.
Note: While Air Pollution is primarily harmful to living things, it can also damage buildings.
Sources of Air Pollution
Here are some of the sources of air pollution that are responsible for ejecting air pollutants into the atmosphere.
Traffic and Mobility
One of the Causes of Air Pollution that first comes to mind.
The Petrol and Diesel engines of cars, trains and other vehicles, emit unwanted pollutants like Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2). In addition to this, the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) released by road vehicles, also contribute greatly to Air Pollution as a whole.
A large amount of Fossil Fuels like Coal and Oil, are used in power plants and factories. Many of the pollutants that are released as a by-product of the burning of these fossil fuels, are identical to those released by road vehicles.
A large amount of Sulphur Dioxide is emitted as a result of the combustion of these fossil fuels. Apart from this, the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels leads to the release of the dangerous Carbon Monoxide.
Believe it or not, Agriculture is also one of the leading causes of Air Pollution!
There is a wide range of compounds of Nitrogen (like NO2) and even Ammonia (NH3), that are thrown into the atmosphere on account of agricultural processes. Processes that range from Fertilizer Production to Livestock Waste Management.
Fact: The harmful Methane (CH4) is released on account of the digestive processes of the livestock.
Mining activities might take place below the surface of the Earth, but they can wreak havoc on the atmosphere above.
In Mining, the minerals below the Earth’s surface are extracted using large pieces of equipment. The harmful dust and chemicals that are released, not only harm the miners, but also the people living in nearby areas.
Not all sources of Air Pollution come from human beings! The following are some of the natural causes of Air Pollution.
- Dust storms from deserts like the Sahara.
- Wildfires that generate high levels of CO.
- Volcanoes that release NH3 and SO2 during eruptions.
The Effects of Air Pollution
If you have ever wondered just how harmful the effects of Air Pollution might be, this section is especially curated for you.
Here are some of the effects of Air Pollution, that highlight the need for all human beings to take the issue of Air Pollution, most seriously.
Hazardous to Health
A number of air pollutants pose serious health hazards, and can be fatal in even the smallest quantities.
- Benzenes can cause eye, skin and lung irritation.
- Mercury attacks the central nervous system.
- Lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys.
The emission of Greenhouse Gases is responsible for the imbalance in the gaseous composition of the Air. As a result, this has led to an increase in the temperature of the Earth, known as Global Warming. This in turn has led to the melting of glaciers and the subsequent rise in sea levels.
Harming Animals and Plants
Human beings aren’t the only living creatures affected by Air Pollution. The most common effect of Air Pollution in animals is the damage to their respiratory systems. In the case of plants and crops, they grow less when exposed to long-term air pollution.
As we have seen, the burning of those fossil fuels leads to the release of harmful gases in the air, like Nitrogen and Sulphur Oxides. When water droplets combine with these harmful pollutants, the result is Acid Rain. A rain that is extremely harmful to human, plant and animal life.
Indoor Air Pollution Hazards
When we think of Air Pollution, we typically think of Cars and Factories. The following are a couple of harmful effects of Air Pollution, from Indoor Sources.
- Heating a house by burning things like Kerosene and Wood, can contaminate the air. The ash and smoke released can make breathing difficult.
- Ventilation can lead to the spread of toxic mould. The mould’s spores can spread inside the house. When people breathe these spores, they can fall seriously sick.
Ozone Layer Depletion
The release of air pollutants like Chlorofluorocarbons and Halons into the atmosphere, wreaks havoc on that Ozone Layer. The depleting ozone layer fails to prevent harmful ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun. That only results in a rise in skin diseases and eye problems. Yet another harmful effect of Air Pollution.
At EuroKids we believe that all of us adults should help in the fight Air Pollution. Especially so, for the sake of our children who face special risks from Air Pollution, on account of their growing lungs. It is high time we took the responsibility on our shoulders. Like ditching our vehicles at times, and walking or cycling instead!