Air pollution occurs when chemicals, particulates, or biological materials, that cause anxiety, disease, or death to humans, enter into the atmosphere. It causes damage to other living organisms such as food crops. Today, air pollution is a major problem faced by people acros s the globe. A number of causes are related to the contamination of the atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone depletion, due to air pollution, has been recognized as a major threat to the Earth. Moreover, polluted air leads to numerous health problems, ranging from mild to chronic ones. As far as human health is concerned, poor quality of air, seriously affects the body's respiratory and cardiovascular system. The severity of the diseases may depend upon the degree of exposure, to polluted air. The degree of air pollution is more in cities, especially in the industrial areas, than the countryside. Given below is the complete information about the causes and effects of air pollution.
- Combustion of fuel is one of the major causes of air pollution in urban areas. Burning of fossil fuels such as natural gas and gasoline leads to the emission of carbon dioxide and other gas, which deteriorates the quality of air, making the air polluted.
- Increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of the prime causes of air pollution. Power plants exhaust fumes of automobiles, airplanes and other human activities involving the burning of gasoline and natural gas are related to the emission of this greenhouse gas.
- The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a class of synthetic chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol propellants, have caused holes in the Earth's ozone layer. The use of these banned chemicals is related with the increasing levels of air pollution.
- Sulfur dioxide is one of the components of smog, which is related to the contamination of the Earth's atmosphere. This synthetic chemical is the prime cause of acid rain.
- Air pollution is partially caused by the particulates formed by a variety of substances, such as dust, pollen and other organic materials.
- Increased road and air traffic is another reason related to the high level of air pollution.
- Smoke and fumes posseting out of the chimneys of manufacturing companies, contains high levels of carbon monoxide, organic compounds, and chemicals. These pollutants, when emitted, look like black clouds spreading across the sky. Smoke released from industries is one of the major factors of air pollution.
- Pesticides used on crops or even in households cause release of harmful chemicals into the air. Crop dusting, delousing homes and even painting supplies are known to have pollutants responsible for air pollution.
- Several natural causes such as forest fires, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, pollen dispersion, evaporation of organic compounds, and natural radioactivity also contaminate the air.
Effects Of Air Pollution
- Asthma is a chronic disease, common among children and adults. The shortness of breath, a prime symptom of this disease, can be triggered by pollutants present in the air, such as smog.
- Lung infections can occur when polluted air is inhaled. This can also lead to shortness of breath.
- Air pollution may influence the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
- Air pollution can also lead to lung cancer.
- Air pollution can result in blockage in the coronary artery or blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. This condition is diagnosed as Coronary Artery Disease.
- High level of pollution in the air can also lead to heart failure. Irregular or abnormal rhythms of heartbeat are often cited as health problems related to air pollution.
- The long-term health effects of air pollution are deadly. They can cause damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys.
- Carbon monoxide emitted from vehicles or from the burning of fossil fuels, can cause headaches, reduce the mental alertness and impair the fetal development or cause death.
- Sulfur dioxide released from coal-fired power plants, petroleum refineries, etc. can cause irritation in eyes, breathlessness, chest tightness and lung damage.
- Exposure to ozone (from vehicle exhaust and certain fumes), may cause eye and throat irritation, cough and respiratory problems. It also reduces a human being’s resistance to colds and pneumonia.
- Lead is a metallic element, which comes primarily from metal refineries, lead smelters, battery manufacturers and iron and steel industries. Constant exposure to this element can lead to anemia, high blood pressure, brain and kidney damage, cancer and neurological disorders.
- Particulate matter refers to the tiny particles of soot, dust or other substance such as tiny droplets of liquids. They are emitted by diesel engines, power plants, wood stoves and also found in windblown dust. They are also responsible for several air-borne diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, cancer, heavy metal poisoning, cardiovascular effects and asthma.
- Radon, a radioactive gas arises from rocks and soil under the house and can accumulate inside the house. Its level is ruled by the outside air and to some extent the gases releases indoors. Being exposed to this gas can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Air pollution is a complex issue with many causes and effects and limited solutions. The reduction of this pollution needs a combined effort from people everywhere. People need to be educated about the life-threatening effects, air pollution entails. So, go through this article one more time and learn about the causes and effects of pollution.