With man making significant development in various aspects of life, the one aspect which is totally messed up is nature. The result of overlooking the proper care of nature has resulted in pollution. Out of all the types of pollution we have, air pollution is the most concerning because it causes problems for both humans and the environment.
Air pollution can be defined as the presence of harmful substances in the air which causes troubles to everybody breathing it. The inferior quality of air causes serious diseases and poses threats of which we don’t have an answer. The worst part? Humans are the prime reason for it. This is a problem the whole world is facing, although steps having been taken to minimize it, a complete end to it still looks like a dream thanks to heavy industrialization and some unpreventable natural processes (volcanoes and wildfires).
To take an in-depth look at the topic, we discuss the causes, its effects and how it can be prevented.
Causes of Air Pollution
- Improper industrialization: Power plants provide the majority of electricity we use and is why they are the biggest reason for air pollution. Fossil fuels when burned release harmful greenhouse gases that are left to mingle with the atmosphere, leading to a greenhouse effect. And not just power plants, other industries using non-renewable sources of power will pollute the environment in different ways.
- Deforestation: Cutting trees brings up a lot of complications than we can think. The leaves of a tree hold carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Without trees, there is an excess of carbon dioxide which contributes to polluting the air. It’s said that each degree Celsius rise in temperature due to carbon dioxide causes 1000 deaths.
- Mining: It’s a process in which important minerals deep below earth are extracted using large machinery and numerous labors. This process releases a lot of dust and particulates into the air causing pollution.
- Incorrect agricultural techniques: Excess use of insecticides and pesticides releases ammonia into the atmosphere. Ammonia when inhaled causes burning sensation in the nose and many serious diseases.
- Indoor air pollution: Various solvents used indoors like paint supplies have a negative impact on the quality of air, sometimes making it impossible to breathe. Smoking also causes severe damages, even to non-smokers near them.
- Natural processes: Wildfires and volcanic emissions release toxic compounds from within the earth which prove hazardous to the environment like air pollution, ozone layer depletion and global warming.
How Air Pollution Effect Us?
- Global warming: This is one of the direct results of pollution. Releasing polluting compounds causes greenhouse effect leading to a worldwide increase in temperature. This eventually results in melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, climate changes, extreme weather conditions, etc.
- Health problems: People exposed to polluted air will experience respiratory and heart problems or even cancer. China and India have numerous cases of patients dying primarily because of the air pollution. Although a lot of poor countries have even worse conditions, any nation relying heavily on industrialization will face this issue.
- Acid rain: Toxic compounds when mixed with atmosphere come down in the form of rain. The water in the rain is acidic and hence it’s called acid rain. People all over the world have reported monuments being damaged and skin diseases because of acid rain.
- Smog: Fog mixed with smoke produces a harmful air pollutant which looks similar to a fog. The Great Smog of 1952 formed over London caused innumerable deaths. In India, New Delhi is facing a similar situation for the past couple of years.
- Agriculture: It’s well known that air pollution can cause damages to plants. But it must be realized that it can completely stop plant growth, affect the quality of crops and ultimately the consumer.
- Economic: Air pollution costs billions, maybe trillions of dollars due to various medicines, diseases and also in increasing the quality of life (buying air purifiers, masks, etc.) This is an insane amount the world is paying even after having a bad economic environment.
How To Prevent Air From Polluting?
- Solar Energy: The source of all the energy is the answer to the pollution caused by us. A lot of solar appliances have been manufactured, solar cells can be used to power appliances and there are plans to use solar energy for our electrical needs also. Using eco-friendly things is advised.
- Plant trees: Undoubtedly, the easiest method but also the most time taking one, trees will balance the carbon dioxide levels, absorb the air pollutants, bring down the temperature by a degree or two and also improve our mood.
- Reduce automobile use: Using public transports and carpooling is an effective way to bring down air pollution. One can use electric cars to travel which save energy and also provide good speed and mileage.
- Good habits: Keeping an air purifier will help, maintaining the fireplace and not smoking will collectively help in increasing the air quality. Buying recycled plants is also necessary.
- Discussion: Advertising about the status of air pollution and educating people on this matter will help the future societies also to be wary of pollutants.
- Government: The governments will have to join hands and work progressively towards a better environment. While the Paris Accords is a step in the right direction, the goals are yet to be achieved.
Some Important Facts
- 92% of the world’s population is living in air polluted areas
- After high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking, air pollution is the 4th largest threat to humans
- Almost all deaths, in some way or the other, are linked to air pollution
- In 2013, one in ten deaths cost 225 billion dollars to global economy in lost labor income
- If your home is airtight, has kerosene or gas heaters, then the air in it is most likely worst