Air pollution refers to the contamination of the environment, which occurs when harmful chemicals are released into the atmosphere. These substances are usually toxic to one’s health and are primarily notorious for causing respiratory problems in human beings. Air pollutants are grouped into two broad categories. Firstly we have primary pollutants responsible for directly polluting the air, such as sulphur dioxide. Secondly, secondary pollutants arise from the reactions of the primary pollutants and other compounds. For instance, smog which results from the reaction of ozone and fog, is a secondary pollutant. This, therefore, makes air pollution a critical topic of discussion. To stop these diseases related to air pollution, necessary measures must be taken to ensure that these harmful substances are not released into the atmosphere. If they are, they enter the atmosphere in a less toxic form. Therefore this paper critically analyses the factors and substances that cause air pollution, its effects as well as how the problem of air pollution can be resolved.
Causes of Air Pollution
Contamination of the air results from solids, liquid and gas particles which enter into the atmosphere. These substances are usually from factories, wildfires, volcanoes , mould spores, and vehicle exhaust fumes. These substances pollute the air as discussed below:
Includes all harmful substances that enter the air from either chemical reaction or are picked up by air. Burning fuels such as petroleum and coal is the primary source of these aerosols. Moreover, these substances can also come from wildfires and factories. However, aerosols do not come from these sources only but can also result from chemical reactions (Tiotiu et al., 2020). When volcanoes erupt , aerosols are also released into the air as well as dust from pollen grains in plants also are another group of aerosols. All these sources of aerosols can contaminate the air to the point of causing severe health issues (Almetwally et al., 2020) .
The release of certain gases into the environment causes air pollution. Ozone is a gas majorly released from cities and towns and a significant source of air contamination. Asenhouse gas, ozone can have both positive and negative environmental impacts. A critical study reveals that the negative impacts outweigh the positive ones. Therefore, generally, ozone is an air pollutant. If only ozone is high in the Earth’s atmosphere, will it have a positive impact since it prevents harmful radiation from the sun from reaching the Earth’s surface ? However, ozone near the Earth’s surface ends up reacting with certain chemicals and eventually leads to the formation of smog. Smog is a dense white fog-like cover which makes it difficult to see through and can cause irritation to the eyes.
In the field of agriculture, there are various activities which take place. The production of hazardous gases such as ammonia accompanying these activities has many harmful effects on life (Tiotiu et al., 2020). For instance, ammonia, when inhaled, causes blockages of vital breathing organs. The chemicals, pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers release dangerous substances into the atmosphere, which end up polluting the air.
The use of heavy machinery and large equipment to extract ores from under the ground leads to the eruption of dust and other chemicals from the ground. When released into the air, these substances will definitely lead to air pollution. Moreover, these substances also devastate the miners since their health will deteriorate drastically as time goes by.
Most of the household products, mostly during cleaning, contain harmful chemicals. For instance, paints have such an irritating smell, and thus exposure to these products should always be avoided or minimized as much as possible.
Impacts of Air Pollution
Air pollution has been reported to be a significant cause of both heart and respiratory disorders. Both disorders are fatal since these are the main physiological processes in the body which, when altered, may lead to death. In the last few decades, there has been a rise in the cases of lung cancer. Also, there have been numerous reports of asthma and pneumonia for those children living in places prone to air pollution. Reports have revealed that there are many deaths associated with the effects of air pollution, thus why solutions have to be sought.
There have been increased temperatures on Earth. This results from the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which alters the composition of the air. When carbon dioxide becomes more in the atmosphere than the average amount , global warming follows, which is a hazardous situation to live in. Global warming refers to the increased temperatures on the Earth’s surface (Tiotiu et al., 2020). Mostly, global warming is experienced in industrial areas since they emit lots of gases from the industries and factories, which are toxic. These high temperatures result in the melting of glaciers in the mountains, which in turn flow in the form of water into the oceans and seas. The increase of water in these water bodies increases the sea levels leaving much land being submerged in water. In some cases, buildings must be abolished, and others must move to safer areas.
Depletion Of the Ozone Layer
The substances resulting from chlorine and carbon reacting are responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. When the ozone layer has been depleted, it is no longer effective. Thus, harmful rays from the sun, known as ultraviolet rays, will have access to the skin., these rays cause skin cancer which is challenging to deal with.
Possible Solutions to Controlling Air Pollution.
Since polluted air has so many negative impacts, necessary measures should be taken to ensure that there are very few or zero cases of air pollution. The following are some of the suggested measures that, when adhered to well, can help fight the menace. Firstly the use of clean sources of energy should be embraced (Lu et al., 2020). Clean energy does not involve burning fossil fuels, and therefore, no toxic gases are released into the environment. Some of the clean energy sources include: wind, solar and geothermal industries. Some countries have already embraced this, e.g. India, and have reduced their air pollution rate.
Another measure to control air pollution is through the conservation of energy. Since most of the fossil fuels are burnt to provide electricity, all electrical appliances should be switched off when unused (Lu et al., 2020). This practice ensures that the environment is clean, though at an individual level. Sensitizing other people on the need to conserve energy means reducing the rate at which pollution occurs.
Third, there should be minimal use of vehicles, more so private ones. This practice will not only prevent pollution pollution but also ensure energy is being conserved. Other practices for controlling air pollution include: the treatment of industrial waste products such that by the time they enter into the atmosphere, they are not toxic. Alternatively, one can substitute those raw materials notorious for producing toxic substances with less harmful ones.
Almetwally, A. A., Bin-Jumah, M., & Allam, A. A. (2020). AmbienAn overview of ambientollution and its influence on human health and welfare: an oronmental Science and Pollution Research, 27, 24815-
Tiotiu, A. I., Novakova, P., Nedeva, D., Chong-Neto, H. J., Novakova, S., Steiropoulos, P., & Kowal, K. (2020). Impact of air pollution on asthma outcomes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(17), 6212.24830.
Lu, X., Zhang, S., Xing, J., Wang, Y., Chen, W., Ding, D., … & Hao, J. (2020). Progress of air pollution control in China and its challenges and opportunities in the ecological civilization era. Engineering, 6(12), 1423–1431.