Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, and pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it's also called smog. Some air pollutants are poisonous. Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly.
Causes of Air pollution
Burning of Fossil Fuels: Sulfur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and other factory combustibles are one the major cause of air pollution. Pollution emitting from vehicles including trucks, jeeps, cars, trains, airplanes cause an immense amount of pollution... The six common air pollutants are:
• Particle Pollution (particulate matter)
• Ground-level Ozone
• Carbon monoxide
• Sulfur oxides
• Nitrogen oxides
Other examples include carbon monoxide gas from motor vehicle exhausts or sculpture dioxide released from the factories. Secondary pollutants are not emitted directly. Rather, they form in the air when primary pollutants react or interact. Ground level ozone is a prominent example of secondary pollutants.
Effects of Air pollution
1. Respiratory and heart problems: The effects of Air pollution are alarming. They are known to create several respiratory and heart conditions along with Cancer, among other threats to the body. Several million are known to have died due to direct or indirect effects of Air pollution. Children in areas exposed to air pollutants are said to commonly suffer from pneumonia and asthma.
2. Global warming: Another direct effect is the immediate alterations that the world is witnessing due to Global warming. With increased temperatures worldwide, increase in sea levels and melting of ice from colder regions and icebergs, displacement and loss of habitat have already signaled an impending disaster if actions for preservation and normalization aren’t undertaken soon.
3. Acid Rain: Harmful gases like nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are released into the atmosphere during the burning of fossil fuels. When it rains, the water droplets combine with these air pollutants, becomes acidic and then falls on the ground in the form of acid rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to human, animals, and crops.
4. Eutrophication: Eutrophication is a condition where a high amount of nitrogen present in some pollutants gets developed on sea’s surface and turns itself into algae and adversely affect fish, plants and animal species. The green colored algae that are present on lakes and ponds is due to the presence of this chemical only.
5. Effect on Wildlife: Just like humans, animals also face some devastating affects of air pollution. Toxic chemicals present in the air can force wildlife species to move to a new place and change their habitat. The toxic pollutants deposit over the surface of the water and can also affect sea animals.
These steps, as well as many others, are things we all can do to help reduce air pollution.
1. Conserve energy – remember to turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.
2. Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
3. Participate in your local utility's energy conservation programs.
How we can stop pollution
4. Use Environmentally Safe Products.
5. Recycle Your Used Motor Oil and Filters.
6. Compost Yard Trimmings.
7. Report Illegal Dumping.
8. Pick Up After Your Pets.
9. Dispose of Trash Properly.
10. Use Water-Based Paints.
11. Recycle Everything You Can.
By Shahid Nauman NUST University Islamabad