Air pollution is the process of emission of pollutants into the atmosphere that can harm the health of the planet and human health as well. Air pollution happens due to biological, chemical or physical alteration of the air composition in the atmosphere. The reasons for air pollution are mainly due to the emission of harmful gases, smoke, dust, and other toxic elements. The increase in the level of air pollution makes it difficult for humans, animals, and plants to breathe.
Air Pollution can be categorized into two segments namely invisible and visible air pollution. The sustainability of all living beings depends on the combination of various gases that together form the atmosphere. But a little imbalance in their quantity can make the survival of the ecosystem to be harmful.
The ozone layer that is crucial for the ecosystem coexistence is getting depleted due to an increase in the level of air pollution. Global warming is another greatest threat that the world has to overcome the continued existence of this planet.
Different Causes of Air Pollution
Let us see in detail the various causes of air pollution in the atmosphere. They are:
- Activities in the Agricultural segment: The usage of ammonia is very common in the agricultural sectors. Ammonia is one of the most toxic gases when emitted into the atmosphere. Besides this, the implementation of numerous pesticides, herbicides and insecticides have also increased lately. Apart from causing air pollution, these toxic chemicals also cause water pollution.
- Operations in Mining: Mining is defined as a systematic method to extract metals below the surface of the earth using heavy equipment or manually. During this procedure, a huge amount of chemicals and dust are emitted into the air causing enormous air pollution. This causes deterioration in the health conditions of the mining workers and the people living nearby the mining field.
- Fossil Fuel Burning: During the burning of fossil fuels like petroleum, coal and other combustibles, sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Sulfur Dioxide plays a major role in enhancing air pollution. Gases emitted from vehicles like jeeps, airplanes, trains, cars, trucks, and many more also causes a huge amount of air pollution. We rely greatly on our daily transport communication. But their excessive use and emission of toxic gases are killing the environment from within. Carbon monoxide along with nitrogen oxides creates a toxic effect. Both these gases are produced due to both man-made and natural procedures.
- Exhausts from the factories and Industries: A huge quantity of hydrocarbons, chemicals, carbon monoxide, and organic compounds are emitted into the air from the manufacturing factories and industries. These hazardous gases deplete their surrounding air quality. Petroleum refineries also release a different type of toxic chemicals and hydrocarbons that led to a high level of air pollution in the nearby areas. Recently 82 countries have invested a chunk in the production of renewable energy and control of air pollution.
- Air Pollution from the Products: Household supplies for painting, cleaning products, air conditioners, and refrigerators release toxic chemicals in the atmosphere. SPM or suspended Particulate Matter is a small particle that is mixed and floats in the air. SPM can enter your body due to its small size and can cause disorders like heart problems, breathing irregularity, or even asthma. Dust and combustion are the chief sources of SPM. Indoor air pollutants are the cause of almost 3.8 million deaths every year across the world. 97 countries in the world have increased access to cleaner fuels up to 85% that can reduce air pollution and save lives.
- Soot and Smog: Smog happens when various emissions due to the combustion of fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot is small particles of soil, chemicals, dust, allergens that are carried in the air in the form of solids or gases. In different parts of the USA, smog has reduced the clarity of the distance by almost 70%. The sources of both the soot and smog are anything that burns fossil fuels like natural gas or coal. The smallest particles of soot are particularly very dangerous as they can enter the bloodstream and lungs. This may result in bronchitis, heart attacks or may even cause death.
- Greenhouse Gases: Greenhouse gases trap the heat of the earth into the atmosphere and increase the temperature. This has led to the rise in the sea level, extreme weather, and the spreading of many infectious diseases like Lyme. According to a report b EPA in 2014, carbon dioxide (81%) and methane (11%) are the two major greenhouse gases. There is another type of greenhouse gas named Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that is a hundred times more powerful than carbon dioxide and methane.
- Mold: Allergens and mold from the weeds, trees, and grass that are carried in the air can also be hazardous to health. When schools, homes or businesses do not maintain hygiene, mold can grow and can create airborne pollutants. Mold can lead to allergic attacks of asthma in human beings.
- Waste: Organic and open waste in landfills emits harmful furans, dioxide, methane, and many other fine particles into the atmosphere. Almost 40% of the waste in the world is openly burned.
Other Sources of Air Pollution
There are other sources of air pollution as well apart from the above-mentioned causes. Smokestacks of the power stations of fossil fuels, waste incinerators, furnaces, heating devices, and biomass burning are the major cause of air pollution in developing countries. Fumes from hair spray, varnish, aerosol, and other solvents comprise almost half of the volatile compounds in the air in the basin of Los Angeles in 2010.
Military resources like germ warfare, nuclear weapons, rocketry, toxic gases, and many others are also another reason for air pollution across the globe. Also, the earth’s crust emits radioactive decay named radon gas. It is an odorless, colorless, and naturally occurring radioactive gas that is produced due to the decomposition of radium.
Carbon Monoxide and smoke that are produced due to wildfires can make around 75% of the air pollution in and around that area. The vegetation of some areas produces a significant amount of VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds during summer. Poplar, black gum, willow, and oak are some of the vegetation that creates VOCs in abundance. These VOC productions can cause up to 8 times higher air pollution that is created due to other sources. Volcanic activity also causes an eruption of chlorine, sulphur, and ash particles.
Many attempts are taken worldwide in the industrial, agricultural, personal and governmental levels to restrain the strength of the air pollution. Numerous policies are also implemented to regain the balance of nature by maintaining the correct proportions of the gases in the atmosphere. Air pollution acts like a big mirror for the follies of mankind that they need to overcome to see a better tomorrow.