Generally, pollution is the process of introducing new materials, contaminants, into the natural environment leading to adverse effects. There are different types of pollution. These include air pollution, sound pollution, light pollution, littering, and soil contamination.
From the above definition of pollution, it is clear that pollutants are foreign substances and particles that contaminate the environment. This paper discusses the various sources of air pollution, the effects of air pollution, and ways of minimizing air pollution. The paper also discusses two classes of pollutants: indoor pollutants and outdoor pollutants.
Air pollution is the process of introducing pollutants into the atmosphere willingly or unwillingly. Human beings perform certain activities that lead to air pollution. For instance, the burning of bushes leads to air pollution. When pollutants enter the atmosphere, they pollute it. Examples of these pollutants include commercial chemicals, foreign particles, and biological substances. After entering the atmosphere, they become part of the atmosphere and they mix with air components.
These pollutants are dangerous especially if living organisms inhale them. They can cause diseases, death of living organisms such as plants and animals, deterioration of the natural environment, and uneasiness. In other words, the introduction of unwanted materials into the atmosphere is a dangerous phenomenon. Air pollutants can also cause other problems. For example, they can damage the built environment and ecosystems of living organisms (Gay 3-14).
According to scientists, the atmosphere is an intricate innate gaseous system that is so much beneficial to all living organisms—plants and animals. In fact, a clean atmosphere supports life on earth. This is the reason why all human beings should stop activities that lead to the contamination of the atmosphere.
Most importantly, scientists across the globe continue to warn people that the stratospheric ozone depletion is dangerous, and can cause health hazards. Undoubtedly, when air pollutants enter the atmosphere, they destroy the ozone layer. The depletion of the ozone layer means that earth’s ecosystems will suffer.
According to research, air pollution is common in urban areas due to many vehicles that emit fumes to the atmosphere. Moreover, in urban areas, many factories release dangerous gases to the atmosphere leading to air pollution.
In rural areas, the burning bushes and lighting of unnecessary fire also causes air pollution. In rural areas where farming is a common activity, farmers pollute the atmosphere by spraying chemicals to food crops. Notably, since the earth is the only planet that supports life, it is necessary to avoid activities that cause air pollution.
Therefore, all human beings should take into consideration the effects of their activities, especially those that cause air pollution. Moreover, people should understand that although economic activities are good for their welfare, they can survive for few days without food, but they cannot survive even a second minus oxygen. This is the main reason why people should avoid all activities that contaminate the atmosphere.
Many people do not understand the importance of keeping the environment clean and free from any contamination. Perhaps this is the main reason why many of them engage in activities that contaminate the environment. For instance, the exploitation of natural resources and industrialization can emit dangerous gases into the atmosphere.
Additionally, green house gases also emit dangerous gases to the atmosphere. For example, green house gases such as sulfur trioxide and carbon dioxide are some of the dangerous gases that enter the atmosphere. Definitely, the destruction of the atmosphere is a serious issue of concern to many people, as the contamination of the atmosphere causes serious health hazards. Undeniably, air pollution is one of the problems facing the world today.
Sources of Air Pollution
The challenge of air pollution started during the industrial revolution age. During those times, many people did not understand the effects of contaminating the atmosphere. There is no doubt that industrial revolution brought significant developments such as improved means of transport, cheaper merchandise, and the improvement of life.
However, the development of technology came at a price. For example, the construction of many factories has increased the percentage of dangerous gases in the atmosphere. However, due to increase of knowledge, many people are now aware of the causes and dangers of air pollution.
For example, automobiles burn gasoline thus emitting dangerous gasses to the atmosphere. In addition, the incineration of products also emits dangerous gases to the atmosphere. Furthermore, smoke from factories also emits dangerous particles and gases into the atmosphere that is dangerous to the life of living organisms.
In fact, the main reason why air pollution is more dangerous than other forms of pollution is that it involves the depletion of the ozone layer, which supports life on earth. For instance, gaseous by-products from industries can cause death of organisms once they inhale contaminated air. Therefore, as the world becomes more industrialized, there will be continued air pollution and increased health hazards.
In some instances, air pollution can occur from natural sources, which are beyond the control of human beings. For example, the destruction of forest by fire causes leads to air pollution. The eruption of volcanoes and dust storms are also other examples of natural air pollutants. In some cases, the polluted air combines with raindrops to form acid rain, which is another form of air pollution.
The effects of acid rain are catastrophic and they include the annihilation of crops, erosion of buildings, and destruction of other assets. Moreover, acid rain can also cause global warming, which is one of the very many issues affecting the world today. According to scientists, air pollution leads to climate change, and that people will soon start noticing climate change patterns and alterations. If there is continued air pollution, the average global temperature will rise and this will increase health hazards and respiratory deaths.
Classification of air pollutants
Of course, the two major classes of causes of air pollutants are indoor and outdoor. In the former, we have a number of pollutants that emit dangerous gases to the atmosphere.
For example, furnishings and cleaners are examples of indoor pollutants. Mold is also another indoor air pollutant that is very dangerous. To start with, mold is a microscopic organism common on surfaces with high humidity percentages. For instance, on the body of human beings, mold can grow into the skin and cause health implications, asthma and allergic reactions.
Recently, scientists have also associated mold with chronic sinus infections that is not only dangerous, but can also cause death of organisms. Additionally, mold can cause breathing difficulties, breeding from the lungs. It can also cause memory loss and hearing impairments. Clearly, indoor pollutants are dangerous. However, as compared to outdoor pollutants, they are minimal (Farrah and Brook 1240-1241).
Ordinarily, outdoor pollutants are common in the atmosphere, which contains the air that living organisms inhale. Pollutants from industries, automobiles, airplanes, and other machines emit fissile fuels into the air. These are some of the examples of outdoor air pollutants. Different factories, depending on what they manufacture, emit different gases to the atmosphere. Moreover, some factories release sulfuric acid fumes to the atmosphere, which can cause respiratory difficulties.
When it is raining, the raindrops combine with these fumes to form acid rain that is dangerous to the life of living organisms, and destruction of property especially in the northern hemisphere region. In northern lakes, organisms living in water such as fish die due to acid rain. Ironically, the solution to this predicament is quite involving and expensive, as it is not easy to clear sulfur from coal due to burning. However, it is easier to clear carbon dioxide from the air as compared to other gases.
Statistics indicate that carbon dioxide is the most abundant air pollutant in the atmosphere compared to chlorofluorocarbons such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide from green houses. This is due to rampant deforestation and release of fossil fuels into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, green plants help in clearing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (Tyson 57-77).
Many countries have come together to enact laws that will protect the environment for future generations. From the Kyoto Protocol to the Clean Air Act, countries across the globe continue to adopt laws that will govern the protection of the environment.
However, adopting laws is not enough, as countries must commit themselves to protecting the environment. For example, the development of electric vehicles will reduce emission of fossil gases to the atmosphere. Factories should also use resources that emit fewer gases to the atmosphere.
For example, in the place of coal they can use natural gas, which emits les gas. Motorists should also turn-off their engines in order to reduce more gas emissions into the atmosphere. Although the world has made progressive advances towards a clean atmosphere, industrial development remains the biggest hindrance. Nevertheless, many countries have pledged to reduce gas emissions in order to protect the atmosphere from contamination for future generations.
Farrah, Mateen, and Robert Brook. “Air Pollution as an emerging global risk factor for stroke.” Journal of American Medical Association, 305.12(2011): 1240-1241. Print.
Gay, Kathlyn. Air Pollution. New York: F. Watts, 1991. Print.
Tyson, Peter. Acid Rain. New York: Chelsea House, 1992. Print.