Air Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control of Air Pollution

Today’s population is going through a serious concern of polluted air. It affects the animals, birds, forest, natural resources along with human. More than six billion people in the world have to breathe in polluted air.

What is air pollution?

    Any undesirable change in the chemical, physical or biological properties of the air by the inclusion of some elements into the air unnecessarily, that causes harm to the environment, humans, and other organisms are called air pollution. The emission of materials from industries, agriculture, and vehicles are getting air polluted.

Causes of air pollution

Emission from vehicles

  The major reason for air pollution is vehicles. Around, 80% of air pollution is caused by automobiles. The pollutants released from vehicles include gases like Carbon monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide.

Industries

Food processing industries, Paper and pulp factories, thermal power plants, petroleum refineries, fertilizer plants, and steel industries are the major sources of air pollution. The harmful pollutants like CO, sulfur dioxide, Hydrocarbons,  etc., are released to the atmosphere. Textile factories release cotton dust into the air. Release of poisonous gases from accidents also poses serious threats. In Tokyo, about 34 tones of carbon particles mixed with other suspended particles settle per square kilometer every day.

Burning of fuel

burning of wood, charcoal, and other fossil fuels cause air pollution by the release of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide, etc. Petroleum consists mainly of hydrocarbons, sulfur, and nitrogen

Agriculture

      In the farm, The sprinkling of pesticides is also causing the air pollutions Which is harmful to men, birds, and animals.

Natural sources

The Eruption of volcanoes causes air pollution. By eruption, elements are brought outside with slag and all these particles are mixed with the air. Due to a large amount of fire in the forest causes pollution in the surrounding atmosphere. Cosmic dust generated due to a collision of comets, asteroids, and meteors, etc. with Earth. and also  Erosion of rocks through the air.

The air pollutant

Carbon Monoxide

It is produced by incomplete combustion of fuel. Also, it is a very poisonous gas. CO combines with hemoglobin and reduces its oxygen-carrying capacity.

Carbon Dioxide

The CO2 content of the air has increased by 20% during the last century. The increase in co2 leads the greenhouse effects. Also, co2 causes nausea and headache.

Oxides of Sulphur and nitrogen

SO and SO2 are produced by burning of coal and petroleum. A high concentration of SO2 causes chlorosis, plasmolysis, damage to mucous membrane and metabolic inhibition. SO, and SO2 reacts with water and form the Sulphuric and sulfurous acids.

These may Fall as rain called acid rain. The oxides of nitrogen like NO and NO2 are released by automobiles, chemical industries, and by burning of materials. These are harmful and lower the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

Aerosols

Aerosols are chemicals released in the air in a vapor form. which contain fluorocarbon present in emissions from the Jet airplanes. Aerosols deplete the ozone layer. Thinning of the ozone layer results in more harmful ultraviolet rays reaching the earth, which are harmful to skin, and can lead to skin cancer also.

Micro substance

Fly ash from burning of coal, metal dust containing lead, chromium, nickel, cadmium, zinc, and mercury, and Spraying pesticides on the crop also polluting air. The radioactive substances which release by nuclear explosions are also a harmful pollutant.

 Effects of air pollution

 On human

Humans inhale about 8000 liters of air every day. Therefore, it affects the body in various ways and becomes the cause of many serious diseases.

  • Ozone affects the eyes, causes dryness of the mucous membrane, headaches, pulmonary congestion, and edema.
  • SO3, CO and NO diffuse into the bloodstream and reduce oxygen transport.
  • Hydrocarbons and other pollutants act, as carcinogens and lead to different cancer.
  • Smoking of tobacco causes cancer in the lungs.

Climate change

The increase in the concentration of Co2 in the air increases the atmospheric temperature and producing a greenhouse effect. A rise of global temperature by more than 2-3 degrees may melt glaciers and polar ice. This would lead to a rise in the ocean level, consequent flooding, and submergence of coastal areas. Rainfall pattern may also change and affecting agricultural output in various regions of the world. Especially the mountain environments which serve as a great attraction for tourists.

Effects on Vegetation

smoke and dust cover the leaf surface and reduce the photosynthetic capacity of plants. Sulfur-dioxide lead to leaves become black and sometimes colorless. Hydrocarbons cause premature yellowing, fall of leaves, fall of flower buds, discoloration and curling of sepals and petals. Some plants behave as pollution indicator which can be called ‘pollution indicator plants’. The plants like Salvia, Dahlia, Banyan, Genia, Chid, Glendulus, etc show the pollution marks on their body.

Effects on the ozone layer

The depletion of the ozone layer may cause harmful serious problems like skin cancer, cataracts in the eyes, and increasing blindness and also has side effects on crops. The industrial compounds which are used as refrigerators like Chlorofluorol carbon are responsible to deplete the ozone layer. If the production of these compounds continues at the current rate, then in the next hundred years the ozone in the atmosphere will decrease by 7 to 13 percent.

Control of air pollution

  • Nuclear explosions should be restricted.
  • The height of chimneys should be increased to the highest possible level to reduce pollution at the ground level.  
  • Particles larger than 50 mm are separated in gravity settling tanks. Using cyclone collectors or electrostatic precipitators separates the fine particles.  
  • Trees should be planted on the roadside, riverbanks, parks and open places as they keep the environment fresh.
  • There are many things we can do at our level: such as using a bicycle or walking, turning off lights and electronic devices when you are not working, etc. And Do not burn waste which directly causes air pollution. 

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