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Air Pollution: A Global Problem and How to Control It
The rapid increase in air pollution throughout the world has made it a global environmental problem. And several factors are responsible for it, such as industrial emissions, burning of fossil fuels and many more. Let us explore air pollution, its sources, its impact, and what we can do to mitigate its effects in the article below.
What is air pollution?
Air pollution is the contamination of air by chemicals or particles that are harmful to all living organisms (humans, animals and plants). And both humans and nature contribute to creating these chemicals, particles, or pollutants. But human activities are mostly responsible for air pollution.
Sources of air pollution
Vehicles that run on petrol and diesel (Cars, motorcycles, ships and trains) emit gasses such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter into the atmosphere causing air pollution. S
Some air pollution also occurs naturally due to storms, such as sand and dust storms, in regions such as Sahara, leading to PM 2.5 pollution. Wildfires that happen frequently in many parts of the world release a large amount of CO into the atmosphere. Similarly, volcano eruption releases NH3 and SO2, which, when combined with other airborne contaminants, causes air pollution. Along with these sources, there are several other sources/causes of air pollution, which you will learn more about at your school in Baddi.
Indoor air pollution
When we think about air pollution, we think about industrial emissions and vehicle exhaust, but indoor air pollution is also a significant concern. Indoor air pollution is caused by pollutants that are released inside the home. You can identify some by smell, but others are quite undetectable.
Cooking inside the home by burning substances such as wood and kerosene pollutes the air inside the house. Ash and smoke produced during cooking make breathing difficult and, in worse cases, leads to diseases such as asthma. Smoking tobacco releases harmful chemicals inside the home, which lead to cardiovascular diseases- as tobacco contains over 7000 chemicals, tobacco smoking is one of the severe sources of indoor air pollution.
Many cleaning products that we use in our homes contain volatile organic compounds that can cause short and long-term health problems such as headache, nausea and kidney and liver damage. Also, mould that grows on walls and ceilings can cause respiratory issues such as infections, asthma, etc. You can reduce indoor air pollution by providing adequate ventilation, keeping your indoors clean and planting indoor plants.
Effect of air pollution on health
The impact of air pollution depends upon several things, such as the type of pollutants and the length of time for which someone is exposed, including their health history; For example, if they are asthmatic, they are more vulnerable to air pollution. Let us explore these factors one by one to understand the consequences of air pollution on human health.
1. Pollutant types
Different pollutant types impact our health differently. For example, Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) released from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions and combustion of fossil fuels cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues. Similarly, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas emitted from vehicles and power plants leads to coughing and breathing difficulty in people suffering from respiratory problems like asthma.
2. Duration of exposure
The impact of air pollution on an individual depends on how long they are exposed to it. Long-term exposure to air pollution leads to severe health problems, while short-term exposure cause mild problems such as headaches, nausea, etc.
3. Vulnerable people
Children, pregnant women and older adults are more vulnerable to the effect of air pollution. People who have health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory diseases or weak immunity are drastically affected by air pollution. You will learn more about this in-depth at the best CBSE schools in Baddi.
4. Geographical location
People who live in urban or industrialised zones or regions- where there is heavy traffic are more exposed to air pollution, which means they are at greater risk of health problems compared to those who live in towns or villages.
5. Social economic factors
Individuals' exposure to air pollution can be influenced by their social- economic factors. For example, people from disadvantaged communities can be at higher risk of health issues as they are exposed to more pollution levels because of factors such as proximity to industries, etc.
Effect of air pollution on the Environment
The entire ecosystem suffers from air pollution, not only humans. Pollutants that are present in the air fall to earth, thus contaminating soil and water surface. All this destroys crops and kills young plants and trees. Also, when water and oxygen in the atmosphere get mixed with nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide (pollutants), it produces acid rain- which damages plants and destroys buildings and monuments. Animals also get affected by air pollution, like us- it leads to birth defects in animals and sometimes causes issues in their reproductive rates. It's important to learn about climate change's role in this global crisis.
What can you do?
Do not think that, being a student, you can do nothing to curb or reduce air pollution. There are several things you can do to help humanity and the environment. We have discussed some ways that can help you start and make a significant change.
1. Decrease your carbon footprint
You can start by reducing your carbon footprint- for example, using public transport to go to school or walking or cycling to school, and turning off lights at school and home and encouraging others to do the same can help reduce air pollution.
2. Take part in clean-up campaigns
Participate in your school, neighbourhood and local communities' clean-up campaigns to clean litter from parks, streets and other areas. This will prevent the waste from burning and ending up in water bodies, which causes air pollution. You can also take part in planting drives to increase green spaces and enhance air quality.
3. Educate and raise awareness of air pollution
You can educate and raise awareness among people about the causes and effects of air pollution on humans and the environment by conducting research on air pollution and sharing information about it on social media. You can also take part in debates and discussions at school about air pollution to raise awareness among your peers.
Air pollution has become a huge environmental problem which requires the combined efforts of individuals, societies, communities and the government to mitigate its ill effect on humans and the environment. We hope the above article helps you know about the causes, sources and effects of air pollution and what you can do to control/reduce air pollution. Please share your opinions in the comment section.