Air pollution refers to the infusion of chemicals, particles and biological matter that are hazardous and are the cause of discomfort to humanity and other living organisms into the atmosphere. Noise is also one of the factors that contribute to air pollution.
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The main pollutants are gases, solid matter and liquid droplets. These can either be primary or secondary. Primary pollutants are those that are emitted directly into the atmosphere while secondary pollutants are those that form in the air when different primary pollutants react or interact.
“Examples of primary pollutants include volcanic ash that is spewed into the atmosphere as a result of a volcanic eruption, Carbon Monoxide emitted by automobiles and Sulphur dioxide from factories. An example of a secondary pollutant is the ground level ozone” (Mukhopadhyay 2008)
There are many gaseous pollutants and the common ones are carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Duflo & Hanna (2008) notes’ “carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and poisonous. When there is incomplete combustion of any kind of fuel, the resultant product is carbon monoxide which can lead to death when one is exposed to it for a long period of time. Carbon dioxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas, is not toxic and it is the product of complete combustion, cement production and respiration (Duflo & Hanna 2008).
Solid pollutants are either natural or manmade. Those that occur naturally include pollen that comes from plants, dust from dust storms from volcanic ash which is emitted by volcanoes. Manmade solid pollutants come about as a result of human activities such as burning of fossil fuel in cars and various industrial processes. Aerosols, a mixture of gas and solid particles, are also products of human activity (Mukhopadhyay, 2008)
There is another category of pollutants known as radioactive. These occur either naturally or may be brought about by human activities. An example of a naturally occurring radioactive pollutant is the radioactive decay of radon. The ones that are as a result of human activity are nuclear war explosives and the generation of nuclear energy. Radioactive pollutants are believed to have the most devastating and lasting effects on the environment and its inhabitants.
Radioactive pollution mutates the genes of any living organisms causing their offspring to have abnormal features. The effect of radioactive pollution are heavily documented in history and of particular interest is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by the United States of America, the effects are still being felt up-to-date. Recently in the wake of the earthquake that rocked Japan, a nuclear power plant was hit and radioactive gases leaked into the atmosphere.
Air pollution can take place both outdoors and indoors. While indoors, air can be polluted by lead paint degenerating into dust which ends up being inhaled, burning of incense, air fresheners, perfumes, tobacco smoking, pesticides, mold on walls and pets which produce dander hence contributing towards pollution of the environment (Tesar, et al 2007)
The effects of air pollution are far reaching and according to World Health Organization statistics, about 2.4 million people loose the lives annually as a result of air pollution. There are numerous health conditions that can be attributed to air pollution. Conditions such as cancer, lung and heart diseases, asthma, severe respiratory symptoms and allergies, bronchitis, emphysema and dyspnea are some of the conditions that are caused by air pollution.
This in turn leads to increased medicinal use and a lot of resources are spent in an attempt to treat or manage some of these conditions. Large water bodies are adversely affected by air pollution due to Carbon dioxide being emitted in the atmosphere thus causing water bodies to be acidic beyond the optimal point that is ideal for marine flora and fauna. The net result is the extinction of some species of marine plants and animals (Christopher et al 2004).
The present generation owes it to the future generations to conserve the environment so that they inherit one that is habitable. To achieve this air pollution has to be as minimal as possible and habits such as smoking should be discarded. Practices of using other forms of energy that are environment friendly will go a long way towards reducing the level of environmental pollution.
Resources that are being used to treat illnesses caused by air pollution will be channeled elsewhere. Governments should implement policies that ban the use of toxic chemicals and activities that pollute the air. Such posterity measures will go a long way in preserving the environment and enjoying life.
Christopher, H. et al (2004). Effect of Ambient Air Pollution on Pulmonary Exacerbations and Lung Function in Cystic Fibrosis. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 169 (7): 816–821.
Duflo, E., & Hanna, R. (2008) Indoor air pollution, health and economic well-being. New York, NY: John Willey.
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Mukhopadhyay, K. (2008). Air Pollution in India and Its Impact on the Health of Different Income Groups. New York, NY: Nova Science Publisher
Tesar, J. et al (2007). Air Pollution and Its Effects Our Fragile Planet. London: Infobase Publishing.