OulineTheSources&EffectsOfAirPollution Air pollution is the accumulation of impurities in the air. There are both natural and human impurities and they occur both indoor and outdoor.
Natural: Fires Volcanoes Wind Rain Plant growth
Human: Transport Military/scientific experiments CO2 CFC’s Methane General waste Cigarettes Burning fossil fuels (mainly since the Industrial Revolution) Outdoor:
The causes of air pollution are both natural and human induced as shown above. The main offenders are........ These pollutants are a major source of threat to human health and the future of human sustainability & existence on earth. The effects of this air pollution is increasing. For humans it is reduced visibility, breathing problems, an increase in occurrence of asthma, irritable senses and basic health. For the environment it is also a concern with the change in temperature of the earth, the build of air particles, hole in the ozone layer and the change in weather patterns.
Some meaty information: The Reasons Behind Air Pollution Carbon dioxide is one the main pollutants present in the air. This is because, although living beings do exhale carbon dioxide, this gas is harmful when emitted from other sources, which are caused due to human activities. An additional release of carbon dioxide happens due to various such activities. Carbon dioxide gas is used in various industries, such as the oil industries and the chemical industries. The manufacturing process of most products would require the use of this gas. There are various human activities that add to the increased proportions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The combustion of fossil fuels and the harmful effects of deforestation have all contributed towards the same. show that among the various gases emitted during a volcanic eruption, carbon dioxide remains to be at least 40% of the emission. Scientists have now therefore identified carbon dioxide as one of those elements that have contributed to global warming. Causes of air pollution are not limited to this. The combustion of fuels in automobiles, jet planes, etc., all cause the release of several primary pollutants into the air. The burning of fossil fuels in big cities which is seen at most factories, offices and even a large number of homes, it is no wonder that air pollution is increasing at an alarming rate. The release of other harmful gases all adds to the state that we see today. Although carbon dioxide plays an important role in various other processes like photosynthesis, breathing an excess of the same also causes harmful effects towards one's health. The various sources that releases harmful gases into the atmosphere are caused due to the increasing number of power plants and manufacturing units or industries that mostly have activities related to the burning of fuels. Besides, as mentioned earlier, most automobiles, marine vessels, activities that involve the burning of wood, fumes that are released from aerosol sprays, military activities that involve the use of nuclear weapons, all are the numerous reasons behind air pollution. Carbon monoxide is another such gas which, although was present in the atmosphere earlier, is now considered to be a major pollutant. An excess of the same has a harmful effect on our system. There are many reasons why carbon monoxide can be released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities. This is also produced due to any fuel burning appliance and appliances such as gas water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, gas stoves, gas dryers, yard equipment, as well as automobiles, which add to the increased proportion of this gas into the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide is yet another harmful pollutant that causes air pollution. Sulfur dioxide is emitted largely to the excessive burning of fossil fuels, petroleum refineries, chemical and coal-burning power plants, etc. Nitrogen dioxide when combined with sulfur dioxide can even cause a harmful reaction in the atmosphere that can cause acid rain. Nitrogen dioxide is one more gas that is emitted into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities. An excess of nitrogen dioxide mainly happens due to most power plants seen in major cities, the burning of fuels due to various motor vehicles and other such sources, whether industrial or commercial that cause the increase in the levels of nitrogen dioxide. These and a number of other hazardous air pollutants are emitted with the various numbers of activities that we carry out during the day which are the main causes of air contamination.
The Natural Causes of Air Pollution Forest Fires A fire that occurs in a highly vegetation infested area through natural causes is known as a bush fire, and this is a very potent natural source of air pollution. There are several different causes that lead to forest fires, and the fact is that they are caused naturally without any human intervention. These fires spread very rapidly, and release pollutants like smoke and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Though carbon monoxide is present in living bodies in small amounts, it can be toxic in nature when sniffed in larger amounts. Forest fires also lead to unpredictable weather changes and cyclones, and all this leads to a severe loss of life in the long run. Volcanic Eruptions A volcano is an open fissure on the surface of the earth from which lava and volcanic ash escapes on a regular basis. There are several active volcanoes that are found around the planet today, and along with the air pollution that they cause, they can also be a source of danger to life forms. Carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are the primary gases that are released during volcanic eruptions, and these lead to dire consequences to the earth's atmosphere and to all the life forms that reside here. Other gases like hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, carbon monoxide, halocarbons and some metal chlorides are also released into the atmosphere in smaller traces. The materials released also lead to acid rain in many parts, and the volcanic ash that follows disrupts air travel and many other activities. The recent eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull over Iceland in 2010 also led to several restrictions in air travel over Europe. Wind Erosion Though dust particles and dirt do not cause toxic effects in the human body, they are capable of inducing many respiratory diseases in human beings. These dust particles move around in the atmosphere due to strong winds, especially in geographical areas where wind erosion is a common occurrence. This factor is not a very major contributor towards air pollution, but it does play a small role and is one of the most underestimated forms of air pollution. Methane Expulsion Farm animals like cattle release methane into the atmosphere during the end stages of their digestive cycles. Methane gas affects the ozone layer in the atmosphere since it is a very potent greenhouse gas, and it is also highly inflammable when it combines with other elements in the air. Moreover, it can lead to severe asphyxiation if someone is trapped in a closed room with the presence of methane gas in the air. This is a factor that building construction sites also take into account, since the presence of methane in the airways of the building can lead to dire consequences. Radon Expulsion Nuclear elements like uranium are found inside the earths surface, and when these elements decompose they release a noble gas known as Radon into the atmosphere. This gas is highly radioactive in nature, and it can cause some serious health damage to people who breathe the air that contains it. Interestingly, after smoking, Radon intake is the second largest contributing factor to lung cancer in human beings, so all possible measures to prevent the spread of Radon must be taken. Other factors like the dispersal of large amounts of pollen from flowers and the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which get oxidized and transformed into aerosols from plants and trees also lead to air pollution which is not caused by man-made sources. As you can see, there are plenty of natural causes that are out of our control as well. Most of these sources can be countered in certain ways, but if you are under the impression that air pollution is caused solely by man, then you are mistaken.
Effects of Air Pollution on Humans The effects of air pollution on humans are in many cases life-threatening, and can be fatal. WHO statistics report that over 2 million people succumb to the fatalities attributed to air pollution on a yearly basis. Consistent exposure to pollutants leads to the development of a large number of diseases. Here's a look at some of them. Cardiopulmonary Disease A little known, yet potentially deadly disease, cardiopulmonary disease may affect both the lungs and the heart. It could cause inflammation of the air passage, and in turn lead to other serious complications. Pneumonia This is a very common disease caused, that seems to be on the rise, especially in the underdeveloped world because of the extreme high levels of pollution in these areas. It is caused due to the inflammation of the lung tissue. Left untreated, it can be quite deadly. Premature Mortality The air which we breathe is the very essence of our life, and the most important factor in our existence too. All bodily functions are carried out because of the constant supply of fresh air that reaches our various organs through the blood stream. If the air we breathe is polluted, it can cause both short-term and long-term damage. With time, due to lack of proper fresh air circulation to our organs, they cease to function properly, and ultimately could lead to premature mortality. Heart Attack The heart is the control center of the human body. The lungs constantly supply oxygen to the heart, which in turn pumps it through the blood to the entire the body. This perfect synergy of the heart and the other organs of the body ensure a healthy life for us. Over time, if we breathe in polluted air, it gets into our blood stream and causes many serious problems. These pollutants tend to accumulate in the coronary arteries and obstruct the flow of rich blood to the heart. This in turn affects the functioning of the heart, and can cause heart attacks. Asthma One of the most common effects of being subjected to air pollution over long periods is difficulty in breathing, and in more serious cases, asthma. It is caused due to the swelling of the airway or the bronchioles, as they are called, because of the many pollutants in the air. Asthma causes major problems in an individual's daily life, and in extreme cases can lead to death, if not tended to promptly. Difficulty in Breathing A very large percentage of people all around the world today have difficulty in breathing, either in a small or a big way. This is all due to the ever-increasing levels of air pollution. Wheezing and Coughing Wheezing and prolonged cough attacks are both symptoms of asthma, and are caused by the pollution in the air, which over time, affects the passage of fresh air into the respiratory tract. Acute Vascular Dysfunction Exposure to air pollution for prolonged periods can cause serious damage to the lungs. One such very severe lung condition is acute vascular dysfunction. Without proper treatment, this condition can prove to be fatal. Thrombosis / Thrombus Formation The body stays healthy due to the continuous supply of oxygen-rich blood to all its parts. When the blood flow to any part of the body is obstructed, that part tends to turn blue due to the
clotting of the blood. If proper blood flow is not restored, that part begins to degenerate. This condition is called thrombosis. Cystic Fibrosis Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease found commonly amongst children. It is a very serious condition, wherein the parents who have been exposed to very high levels of air pollution pass on this disease to their children through their genes. This disease affects the lungs and the pancreas, and can be life-threatening. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease This is a combination of a couple of diseases, namely, Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema, both of which severely damage the lungs and can cause death. The cases of patients with COPD is at an alarming high because of the excessive air pollution all around. Chronic Bronchitis: This is a disease in which the passage of air to the lungs is obstructed due to the inflammation of the medium air passage or bronchi. This is a chronic condition and greatly lowers the quality of the patient's daily life.
Emphysema: This is one of the most serious conditions of lung diseases. It causes the degeneration of the tissues that hold the lungs and help its expansion and contraction as we breathe. It is a progressive disease and leads to the total collapsing of the lungs.