Air pollution is any physical, chemical or biological change in the air. It is rather the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust and smoke which severely affects plants, animals and humans.
There is a balance of gases present in the atmosphere. A little increase or decrease in the composition of these gases is harmful to survival. This imbalance in the composition of gases has resulted in an increase in earth’s temperature, which is known as global warming.
There are two types of pollutants in the air.
Primary pollutants are those that directly cause air pollution. Sulfur-dioxide emitted from industries and factories is a primary pollutant.
Secondary pollutants are formed by the mixture and reaction of primary pollutants. Smog, produced by the intermingling of smoke and fog, is a secondary pollutant.
There is visible and invisible air pollution as well. The smog that is seen lingering over a city is a good example of visible pollution. Whereas invisible pollutants are not as noticeable, but they can be equally deadly. Examples of invisible pollutants include nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc.
There are many causes responsible for air pollution.
1. Fumes released from vehicles:
The major source of air pollution is vehicle exhaust fumes, which releases high amounts of carbon monoxide. Hence there is no surprise that carbon monoxide happens to be the largest air pollutant in the United States.
Each day millions of vehicles are operated, all of them leaving its own carbon footprint on the environment. This is why electric vehicles are in a rise in the automobile marketplace as people want to rely less on fossil fuels to power their cars, leading to less toxic emissions into the environment.
2. Power plants run by fossil fuels:
Fossil fuels also create a big problem when they are burned for energy in power plants. Chemicals such as sulfur dioxide are released during the burning process, which goes straight into the atmosphere. These pollutants react with water molecules to build up something called ‘acid rain’.
3. Exhaust from industrial plants:
Like the vehicles the exhaust from the heavier machinery located inside big factories and industrial plants also emit pollutants into the air.
4. Construction and Agriculture:
Daily dirt and dust released into the atmosphere from excavating and demolition type construction activities. Ammonia, a frequent by-product produced from agricultural activities is one of the most dangerous gases in our environment.
5. Natural Causes:
Volcanoes, forest fires, and dust storms are natural events create good amounts of air pollution into the environment.
Some of the effects of air pollution are –
1. Global Warming.
Air pollution accelerates the rate of the depletion of the Ozone layer. Global warming means increased temperatures Earth experiences. These higher temperatures lead to the melting of the polar ice caps and icebergs, which increases sea levels.
2. Respiratory and Heart Concerns.
Air pollution causes irritation in the eyes, lungs, nose, and throat. It creates respiratory problems and worsens conditions such as asthma and emphysema.
When humans are exposed to air pollution on a daily basis, they become at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.