Human activities from the last five decades of the 20th century have had a huge impact on the environment. it has created a lot of disturbance in the ecosystem with large-scale risks. We are living in this world with environmental challenges like the risk of climate change, a massive increase in deforestation, extinction of rare species and plants, rising sea level, marine pollution, and air pollution. Most of these challenges have an indirect effect on our lives. But air pollution is an invisible killer that has a huge cost. Air pollution is the concentration of unhealthy microparticles in both outdoor and indoor air. According to the estimated data of the World health organization (WHO) statistics, 9 out of 10 people are vulnerable to the risk of high concentration unhealthy air quality that reaches seven million deaths each year around the world. Approximately 80 percent of the urban areas of low and middle-income countries are highly exposed to bad air quality. Many causes of air pollution largely affect life above the earth. World leaders and environmental policymakers need to review some of the major causes of air pollution that can bring catastrophic problems for future generations and sustainable life. Before discussing the major causes of air pollution, there is a need to define air pollution. Here is the proper definition of air pollution
What is Air Pollution
Types of Pollutants in Air
Causes of Air Pollution
Effects of Air pollution
Solutions for Air pollution
What is Air Pollution?
Air pollution refers to the number of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere that causes health and environmental issues when it exceeds the threshold level and guidelines issued by the environmental protection agency (EPA).
Outdoor unhealthy air quality causes a catastrophic health risk and severe climatic problems like rising in temperature. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide are common pollutants those are hazardous pollutants that contribute to air pollution.
Types of Pollutants in the Air
When it comes to air pollution one should know all knowledge about air to understand it and find a good solution for air pollution. Types of pollutants that pollute the air are classified into two main categories.
1) Visible air pollutants
By name, it is clear that such types of pollutants in the air are visible and can be seen with naked eyes, such as smog that we see in different populated cities. Sometimes it is called secondary pollutants because visible air pollutants came into existence because of different invisible air pollutants like sulfur dioxide etc.
2) Invisible air pollutants
Invisible air pollutants are more dangerous than visible air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide. And these are called primary air pollutants.
Also read: Facts about air pollution
Causes of Air Pollution
Energy used in the production of goods is the main common cause of air pollution. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to different microparticles, chemicals, and gases that can worsen air quality. When released into the atmosphere, these poison gases not only cause air pollution but also contribute to climate change on a global level. Different Green House Gases (GHG’s) like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and methane raise the earth’s temperature, create global warming, and causing different skin and respiratory diseases, allergies, and agricultural damages on a large scale. There are many causes of contaminated air in the global atmosphere; here are a few major air pollution causes. We try our best to categorized major causes of air pollution in systematic order.
Transportation causes air pollution in two ways, firstly through the vehicles themselves and secondly through the fuel used as a means of propulsion. Vehicles emit pollutants directly into the surrounding environment, but also cause emissions to occur indirectly from their effect on other activities. For example, when vehicles travel close to buildings they increase Co levels in ambient air.
The causes of PM10 levels are often related to sources that fall outside road transport. In urban areas, traffic-related causes account for up to 59% between just 4 pm and 8 pm at night. To reduce these causes it is necessary to tackle not only pollution arising from vehicle emissions but also those related to non-road transport, such as agricultural vehicles or construction equipment. The causes of NOx emissions from vehicles are related to nitrogen oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) in the exhaust gases resulting from fuel combustion. There is a close link between causes of PM10 and causes of NOx pollution, which is why the same causes feature in both pollution categories. The key causes for each pollutant differ though since causes for PM10s include non-road transport whereas causes for NOx relate to road transport.
Road transport generates almost half the total source of PM10s. Road traffic is responsible for other significant sources including tires on vehicles, engine braking, and deposits from lubricating oils.
The causes of NOx emissions are very similar to those for PM10, they differ in that road transport is responsible for a greater proportion of them. Causes also include industrial processes and domestic heating.
A report by the European Environment Agency found that around 80% of the causes of air pollution came from just five types of sources: road vehicles, non-road vehicles, energy generation plants, industrial activities, and products such as paints. Although controls have been put in place over recent years to combat these causes, it has not reduced total pollutant levels significantly. This apparent lack of impact could be due to three main factors: poor implementation or enforcement; insufficient capacity at the national level.
Improving air quality European Environment Agency has identified five basic measures that must be taken if we are to reduce levels of particulate matter substantially:
– Replacing diesel engines with alternative fuels
– Using additives or filters to reduce air pollution.
The wastes released by industries have been a major cause of air pollution in urban areas. These causes include the burning of fossil fuels, exhaust fumes, and discharges from industries that causes the accumulation of waste gases around cities leading to air pollution.
Chemical causes include the emission of chlorine gas from chemicals used by industries which causes smog in different parts of our environment. Heavy metals are other chemical causes such as mercury causes water pollution and lead causes soil contamination polluting the environment. Smog is caused by reactions between hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides with sunlight creating ozone (O3), coating city skies with dangerous pollutants.
One major cause of air pollution is wildfires caused by parched land or dry farming practices also known as slash and burn agriculture. These fires produce large amounts of smoke which causes smog in areas near them. Normally this would not be an issue but when combined with industrial emissions causes of air pollution causes a large amount of smog to form. The emissions that are coming from factories and other industries that produce heavy machines for construction and automobiles release chemicals into the atmosphere that react with other chemicals and cause air pollution.
What are the Effects of Air Pollution
Air pollution causes serious health problems. It causes lung cancer, asthma, and bronchitis, causing millions of people to seek medical treatment every year. You are more at risk if you have a heart or respiratory condition, young children or elderly relatives, or work outside for long periods of time, but everyone is affected by air pollution in some way. Air pollution causes an estimated seven million deaths per year, many of which are due to strokes or heart disease caused by toxic gases and fine particles.
Fast-growing cities in developing countries contribute to air pollutant emissions. As a result, countries such as China and India have the highest levels of particulate matter in the world. Air pollution causes billions of pounds worth of damage to Western Europe’s economy Every year, air pollution causes thousands of deaths and many more people fall ill. In the UK alone, it causes over 2 million working days lost through sick leave. It is estimated that air pollution causes around £20 billion a year’s worth of damage to Britain’s economy. Globally, it causes over £2 trillion a year in damage. Machinery causes some air pollutant emissions, but most are caused by everyday activities like driving or cooking with fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. Road transport causes around 40% of the UK’s nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Facts For Air Pollution
Polluted Air takes the life of a healthy person within 1 to 2 years.
The production of heavy cured oil can pollute air 40% more than the production of light crude oil comparatively.
Air pollution is a greater threat for children and old people due to their weak immune systems.
Dolphins are suffering from black lung diseases due to smog created by toxic air.