What Is Air Pollution, How Did It Get So Bad, and What Can We Do about It
Air pollution has become so rampant and problematic that it is considered one of the biggest environmental disasters facing the world today. Pollution is a word that suggests images of smog-filled skies, children playing with trash around polluted waterways, or the greenhouse gas emissions of cars and factories. While these are certainly among the most visible types of pollution in our everyday lives, there are several other more traditional forms of pollution which we often overlook. Air pollution is a major issue. Its pervasiveness is not only limited to the outdoors—it can infiltrate our homes, schools and workplaces making it almost impossible to escape entirely on our own.
How You Can Stop Air Pollution
Air pollution can be defined as any change or alteration in the natural background level of the earth’s atmosphere that poses a potential threat to human health or plant life.
These may be in the form of gases, liquids, or solids suspended in a gas. In general, air pollution comes from vehicle emissions and industrial emissions.
It can sometimes be due to natural phenomena such as volcanic activity or increased solar winds that send more cosmic rays to the Earth.
- But the bulk of natural pollution comes from living organisms and their waste products.
- We ourselves constitute a major source of atmospheric pollution. Particularly when you consider body functions.
- Breathing out carbon dioxide (CO2), expelling sweat and urine, extracting nutrients from food and exhaling a part of these.
- By burning fossil fuels, we are increasing our total atmospheric load with particles clogging up the air.
It affects all living things but is most often bad for us humans.
The problem of air pollution grows more severe year after year, with economic and social development, it becomes more and more difficult to solve.
Air pollution is one of the major problems in the world and it is something that needs to be addressed.
By choosing alternative fuels, reducing usage, and other things like that, countries can see a drastic decrease in air pollution.
Where Does It Come From?
The main sources of air pollution in cities include vehicle exhaust with high levels of particulate matter.
Suspended road dust, industrial emissions, construction operations, agricultural activities such as stubble burning, open waste burning and the use of coal in household stoves.
Steps need to be taken to control these sources through energy sufficiency programs, and enforcement of pollution standards by governments to mitigate their effects on human health.
- The pollution of our environment by chemicals and other harmful materials has a very real impact on our lives.
- As the population of the world continues to grow, we are likely to see more of these problems develop.
- It can make you sick, shorten your life and even kill you. Moreover, its environmental impact is incredibly negative.
- Scientists still debate whether it’s humans’ activities that are to blame, or if it’s part of some natural cycle.
But we’d like to believe that there are ways to reduce the number of pollutants in our environment.
And that thing can be done in simple ways: from limiting our dependency on fossil fuels to driving less and carpooling more.
How Did Air Pollution Grow To Be So Big an Issue?
Before the Industrial Revolution took off, the Earth’s atmosphere was much cleaner.
It’s plain to see this from analysing samples from centuries ago: tree rings reveal that there were fewer sulphates and nitrates in the atmosphere.
After the industrial revolution, a lot of pollutants (fumes from factories) would be released into the air.
People noticed a change in their environment—everything started smelling odd.
Over time, air pollution has become a huge environmental issue—one that seriously affects our health by increasing allergies and asthma rates, and even premature death.
It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without the flow of air. It’s just one of those things we all take for granted.
Yet more and more people are taking notice of a serious threat to their breathing and its impact on health, their communities and economy.
Smog is produced by a mixture of chemicals. A few of the many chemicals that cause smog are nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide.
These chemicals travel into the air when fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel and coal are burned to create energy such as electricity, or to heat buildings.
While fossil fuels supply a very big portion of the world’s energy, they also cause great harm to our environment.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway is that pollution isn’t a new phenomenon.
We have been polluting one another’s air for centuries and we will likely continue to do so for centuries more.
That doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable, of course, and there are plenty of steps currently being taken to combat this problem globally.
But it does mean that this is an issue that has been plaguing us for a long time, perhaps since before our wildest imaginings.
Why Does Air Pollution Matter to Us?
The pollutants in the air pose health risks and can affect the quality of life. Yet we may not always fully understand what these risks mean for us.
Pollution is the release of harmful substances into a natural environment that causes damage to all living things.
There are many kinds of pollution. For example, vehicle emissions cause air pollution.
Carbon dioxide and other gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap heat.
It’s also one of several things, such as greenhouse gasses, which increase our planet’s temperatures and speed up climate change.
Harmful gases like Carbon Monoxide may be present in the air you breathe, but don’t smell or burn.
- Breathing polluted air can make people sick and can even kill.
- Pollution has a huge impact on both people and the environment.
Tiny particles in the air, called particulate matter (PM), are dangerous because they can cause breathing problems like asthma, and make allergies worse.
Particles from vehicle exhaust are a big source of PM in cities.
They can also trigger coronary heart disease, cause strokes, and aggravate lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
We can’t see it, hear it, smell it, or touch it. But the facts are undeniable: it is slowly killing us, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
As we continue to expand our cities and our industries, pollutants are becoming more of a threat—and we’re doing little to address the problem.
The threats that it poses to our health and well-being are very important and worth taking seriously.
Where Do We Stand Today?
Air quality has become one of the most pressing issues facing the world today.
The air we breathe is a precious resource that we must protect, but rising pollution levels in many urban cities have brought this issue directly into our lives.
Every day, each of us breathes in polluted air, releasing microscopic pollutants back into the atmosphere.
A very serious issue that can no longer be ignored.
When our air is polluted it’s the introduction of chemicals, biological material or particulate matter that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms.
It can also damage the natural environment or built environment, and therefore can be a human health issue.
- Related terms include air contamination, which is the introduction of contaminants into the air.
- It kills hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and costs the world trillions of dollars each year.
- While some places have been affected less than others, no area is immune to the effects.
- No one can escape the consequences of air pollution anymore than birds in flight can avoid the same storm.
The World Health Organisation reports that 9 out of 10 people now breathe polluted air-putting them at risk for health complications.
These include asthma, lung cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. Thankfully, we can change this.
In recent decades, humans have learned to harness the sun’s energy, both for heating and cooling—in an environmentally friendly way.
This solar energy provides the best chance to curb air pollution. Since the sun’s inexhaustible supply of energy can be tapped without burning fossil fuels!
A child’s ability to breathe is the foundation of everything they do.
From learning in the classroom to playing with their friends at recess, young children need to be able to breathe freely for their hearts and minds to grow.
The air we breathe—whether it’s outdoors or indoors—makes a difference in our health and well-being every day.
The good news is that together, we can work towards cleaner air and healthy communities for everyone.
Different Ways We Can Improve Air Quality
Most people don’t realise just how much pollution is in the air we breathe.
Particles come from sources like factories, cars, and wildfires. They are also released directly into the air by burning wood or coal to generate energy.
These particles help form smog, which can settle over cities, creating their own type of pollution called “ground level ozone”.
The most effective way to reduce pollution is to stop using substances that create smog and particles. But what if you can’t do without them?
Clean air is important to all of us. Polluted air can cause health problems, and affects our climate, too.
While no single action will quickly improve air quality in the short term, there are many things we can do to protect our health and our environment.
One way to clean up the air is to drive less or use public transit as much as possible.
Another way is to switch from driving a gasoline powered car to an electric vehicle or hybrid car, if that option is available in your area.
There are many ways we can improve air quality.
Some methods we must do ourselves, as individuals and as a society, while other methods we can get done by government.
For example, every person needs to be more aware of how much they are polluting.
We also need to use fewer polluting products, such as cars that emit less pollution.
Also, our cities need to be cleaner. We need to make sure that industries follow pollution standards and don’t pollute the air around them.
Governments also need to make sure that everyone follows the same laws, so that there is equality for everyone in all aspects.
There are laws and regulations that will not work but do have the ability to make people aware that pollution is a serious issue.
- We need more of these laws because the air is getting worse.
- Education is another way we can help people understand that pollution is a serious issue.
- Schools need to teach children about pollution and how it affects our health.
- From there we can also teach them ways of reducing their own carbon footprint.
- We can inform people about all the different types of pollution and ways they can reduce it.
- This may be by using websites, newspapers, magazines, social media, or even just word of mouth.
This will help spread awareness so that more people are willing to change their habits and reduce their carbon footprint which affects the air quality.
How to Reduce Air Pollution in the Home
An obvious way to reduce pollution is to avoid using the car. If you drive less, you will breathe less exhaust.
If you can’t avoid driving, try not to idle your engine. Air conditioners and vacuum cleaners also pollute.
Running them uses energy, and they emit small particles into the air.
You can reduce the pollution they cause by keeping your house well ventilated while they run, and by running them for shorter periods of time.
Toxic chemicals from paints, glues, thinners, and other products used in the home can accumulate in dust particles and be released into the air as those particles settle.
Because young children crawl on carpets and play on floors, they are particularly susceptible to breathing this dust.
When possible, use water-based paints and adhesives rather than solvent-based ones.
Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. The most effective way to reduce pesticide pollution is to stop using them.
To be sure, there are many other actions you can take, and they all help, but cutting pesticides out of your life is the single most important step you can take toward reducing your impact on the environment.
Pesticides are designed to kill living things. They drift with the wind and eventually settle into the ground, where they enter the food chain.
Some of them are very persistent; they stay in the soil for years. And they break down extremely slowly—or not at all—in water.
Wherever they may end up, they kill things that cannot defend themselves by running away or hiding.
Birds and mammals eat small insects that ingest pesticide as part of their living. Pesticides kill them too; even if a bird or animal survives a dose, it may be weakened forever after.
And when you apply pesticides to your own yard, you’re not just poisoning wildlife outside your property; you’re also poisoning wildlife inside your property.
That’s true even if you’re careful to avoid spraying directly on flowers or plants.
If you want to protect yourself from breathing in polluted air, the most basic solution is to open your windows.
That’s as easy as it sounds, but it’s often overlooked.
A window that’s left closed can trap pollutants, since they are heavier and sink to the bottom of a room, where they settle on furniture or floors.
So, if you really want to breathe easy, open those windows!
Air pollution is regarded as one of the most serious environmental issues confronting the world today. Pollution has serious health consequences, lowers life expectancy, and is an economic burden. Vehicle and industrial emissions, as well as human activities such as breathing in and exhaling CO2 and other bodily fluids, contribute to air pollution. Chemical and other harmful material pollution of our environment has a very real impact on our lives. It has the potential to make you sick, shorten your life, and even kill you.
Governments must take steps to control sources, such as energy sufficiency programmes and pollution standards. Pollution is defined as the introduction of harmful substances into the natural environment. Pollution has a significant impact on both humans and the environment. Rising pollution levels in many urban areas have brought this issue into the forefront of our minds.
When our air is polluted, chemicals, biological material, or particulate matter are introduced into it, causing harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms. Polluted air is hazardous to one’s health and has a negative impact on the environment. There are many steps we can take to protect our health and the environment. There are numerous ways to improve air quality. One possibility is to drive less or take public transportation as much as possible.
Another possibility is to switch from a gasoline-powered car to an electric or hybrid vehicle. Schools can also help by instructing students on how to reduce their carbon footprints. Use water-based paints and adhesives instead of solvent-based ones whenever possible. Open your windows to protect yourself from breathing in polluted air. Pesticides are poisons that are intended to kill living things. Pesticides are carried by the wind and eventually settle on the ground.
Air pollution causes serious health problems, lower life expectancy and an economic burden. It is the top environmental cause of premature death.