Air pollution is one of the biggest threats for the environment and affects everyone: humans, animals, crops, cities, forests, aquatic ecosystems...
Air pollution can be defined as an alteration of air quality that can be characterized by measurements of chemical, biological or physical pollutants in the air. Therefore, air pollution means the undesirable presence of impurities or the abnormal rise in the proportion of some constituents of the atmosphere we can also relate air pollution as a mixture of natural and man-made substances in the air we breathe. It is typically separated into two categories: outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution. "air pollution causes, effects and prevention"
Outdoor air pollution: involves exposures that take place outside of the built environment. Examples include:
- Fine particles produced by the burning of fossil fuels (i.e. the coal and petroleum used in energy production)
- Noxious gases (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, chemical vapors, etc.)
- Ground-level ozone (a reactive form of oxygen and a primary component of urban smog)
- Tobacco Smoke
Indoor air pollution: involves exposures to particulates, carbon oxides, and other pollutants carried by indoor air or dust. Examples include:
- Gases (carbon monoxide, radon, etc.)
- Household products and chemicals
- Building materials (asbestos, formaldehyde, lead, etc.)
- Outdoor indoor allergens (cockroach and mouse dropping, etc.)
- Tobacco smoke
- Mold and pollen
In some instances, outdoor air pollution can make its way indoors by way of open windows, doors, ventilation, etc.
Causes of Air Pollution "air pollution causes, effects and prevention"
Air pollution is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of toxic substances, mainly produced by human activities, even though sometimes it can result from natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, dust storms and wildfires, also depleting the air quality.
- Combustion of fossil fuels, like coal and oil for electricity and road transport, producing air pollutants like nitrogen and sulfur dioxide
- Emissions from industries and factories, releasing large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, chemicals and organic compounds into the air
- Agricultural activities, due to the use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers that emit harmful chemicals
- Waste production, mostly because of methane generation in landfills
- Another type of air pollution is then worsened by that increased heat: Smog forms when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation.” Climate change also increases the production of allergenic air pollutants including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season and more pollen production). "air pollution causes, effects and prevention"
Effects of Air Pollution
It is impossible to describe the whole extent of potential and actual damage caused by all forms of air pollution. But here are the main consequences which are believed to be associated with air pollution exposure. Among them are respiratory diseases (including asthma and changes in lung function), cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as preterm birth), and even death.
On the Environment
Air pollution has a major impact on the process of plant evolution by preventing photosynthesis in many cases, with serious consequences for the purification of the air we breathe. It also contributes to the formation of acid rain, atmospheric precipitations in the form of rain, frost, snow or fog, which are released during the combustion of fossil fuels and transformed by contact with water steam in the atmosphere
On top of that, air pollution is a major contributor to global warming and climate change. In fact, the abundance of carbon dioxide in the air is one of the causes of the greenhouse effect. Normally, the presence of greenhouse gases should be beneficial for the planet because they absorb the infra-red radiation produced by the surface of the earth. But the excessive concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is the cause of the recent climate change. "air pollution causes, effects and prevention"
How can I reduce my risk for air pollution exposure?
- Indoor air pollution can be reduced by making sure that a building is well-ventilated and cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of agents like dust and mold. Occupants would also be wise to remove any known pollutants and or irritants (aerosols, stringent cleaning supplies, etc.) whenever possible.
- Outdoor air pollution exposures can be reduced by checking one’s Air Quality Index (AQI), avoiding heavy traffic when possible, and avoiding secondhand tobacco smoke.
How is air pollution linked to climate change?
Climate change also increases the production of allergenic air pollutants including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season and more pollen production). While climate change is a global process, it has very local impacts that can profoundly affect communities, not the least of which is air pollution.
Increasing temperatures are directly linked to poor air quality which, in turn, can affect the heart and exacerbate cardiovascular disease. Examples of this may include a rise in pollen, due to increased plant growth, or a rise in molds, due to severe storms — both of which can worsen allergies and other lung diseases, such as asthma. Scientists say an increasing rise in ozone levels are also a concern.
As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health will grow, exacerbating existing health threats and creating new public health challenges. This assessment significantly advances what we know about the impacts of climate change on public health, and the confidence with which we know it. "air pollution causes, effects and prevention"
Remedies/Prevention of Air Pollution
The good news is that there are ways to reduce air pollution; The less gasoline we burn, the better we’re doing to reduce air pollution and harmful effects of climate change
- Renewable fuel and clean energy production
The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.
- Energy conservation and efficiency
Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.
- Eco-friendly transportation
Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e carpooling, and public transports) could reduce air pollution.
- Green building
From planning to demolition, green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.
In addition, monitoring air pollution levels has become very important to detect pollution peaks, better control air pollution and eventually improve air quality.
How to Protect Your Health
- When you see in the newspaper or hear on the weather report on the television or radio that pollution levels are high, it may be useful to limit the time when children go outside or you go for a jog,”
- When you do exercise outside, stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
- If the air quality is bad, stay inside with windows closed.
- Wear sunscreen. When ultraviolet radiation comes through the weakened ozone layer, it can cause skin damage and skin cancer.
"air pollution causes, effects and prevention"