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Air Pollution Control

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Every day, we take 23,000 breaths. I'm at home. I'm at work. You're in your automobile. On your way to work. That's quite a few breaths.

Breathing is something that most of us don't think about because it isn't something we can see. It's difficult to tell what's in the air around you when you can't see pollutants like invisible gases or particles.

Most people are unaware that according to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of the world's population breathes polluted air. Everyone is affected by this frightening figure, notably youngsters, the elderly, and asthmatics.

If you take a look at the causes of air pollution, you will realize that humans are primarily responsible for air pollution. The growing industrialization has positive and negative impacts on mankind and the environment. Also, the increasing rate of environmental pollution is one of the significant drawbacks that we are facing, resulting from our deeds. Before talking about the control of air pollution, we will have to understand their meaning.

Air Pollution Definition

Air pollution means contamination of air, water, or soil by any substance that is harmful to live organisms. It’s like an introduction or release of a toxic substance into the environment, that can harm the elements in the environment. The pollution can take place because of natural (such as volcanic eruption), and man-made reasons. But nowadays, it’s man-made reasons that are causing more pollution than natural ones. From the increasing number of vehicles to ever-growing industrial wastages in the form of air or water, each contributes to air pollution in some way.

What is Air Pollution?

The air pollution definition says that when any physical, chemical, or biological change takes place in the air and contaminates it, then it is called air pollution. The contamination of air can be caused due to many factors such as poisonous or harmful gases, smoke, fog, smog, dust, etc. air pollution affects both plants as well as animals.

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Types of Air Pollutants

The air pollutants are divided into primary and secondary pollutants. Pollutants are those substances that cause air pollution.

  • Primary Pollutants:

The primary pollutants responsible for air pollution are the ones that directly cause air pollution. These include harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide coming from the factories. Primary pollutants are those that are produced as a direct result of the process. Sulfur dioxide, generated by factories, is a classic example of a primary pollutant.

  • Secondary Pollutants:

The secondary pollutants are formed by the process of intermixing or intermingling of primary pollutants. Smog, which is a combination of fog and smoke, is a secondary pollutant.

Causes of Air Pollution:

To prevent the pollution of air around, you have to understand the causes of air pollution at first. The main causes are – 

  • Burning of Fossil Fuels:

Fossil fuel emits harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air. One of the biggest causes of air pollution is sulfur dioxide, which is emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum for energy in power plants, and other industry combustibles.

  • Automobiles: 

The emission of harmful gases is caused by the excessive use of automobiles.

  • Agricultural Activities: 

Various processes take place during agricultural activities such as the emission of ammonia, overuse of insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Ammonia is a typical byproduct of agriculture and one of the most dangerous gases in the atmosphere. Insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers have all become increasingly common in agricultural practices. They release hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere and can pollute water.

Farmers also set fire to the fields and old crops to clear them up for the new cycle of sowing. According to reports, burning to clean up fields pollutes the air by emitting toxic pollutants. 

  • Factories and Industries:

Emission of harmful gases and chemicals into the air by the increasing industrial activities. Manufacturing companies emit a significant amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air, lowering air quality.

Manufacturing industries may be found in every corner of the globe, and no region has escaped their influence. Petroleum refineries also emit hydrocarbons and a variety of other pollutants, which damage the air and soil.

  • Mining Activities:

Increasing emission of harmful substances through mining activities.  Mining is the extraction of minerals from under the earth's surface utilizing heavy machinery. Dust and chemicals are released into the air throughout the process, resulting in significant air pollution.

This is one of the factors contributing to the deteriorating health of workers and inhabitants in the area.

  • Domestic Resources:

Effects of domestic sources such as the use of chemical paints and overuse of air conditioners. Household cleaning products and painting supplies release hazardous chemicals into the air, polluting the environment. Have you ever observed that when you paint your house's walls, it emits a noxious odor that makes it nearly impossible to breathe?

Another source of pollution is suspended particle matter, sometimes known as SPM. SPM refers to the particles that float in the air and is typically caused by dust, combustion, and other factors.

Diseases caused by air pollution:

Air Pollution can lead to increasing diseases like throat infections and lung cancer in humans. Every year, diseases related to air pollution kill and hospitalize millions of people. According to World Health Organization estimates, one out of every eight fatalities worldwide is caused by conditions related to air pollution. New research has found significant correlations between the development of respiratory and cardiovascular disorders and both outdoor and indoor air pollution. Ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infections in children are among the most prevalent diseases induced by air pollution.

"Ischemic heart disease, or coronary heart disease," adds Kevin Wood, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Camfil USA, "is connected to the deposition of calcium or other materials like fat within the coronary artery." "This causes blockages, preventing blood from reaching the heart and other vital organs." According to new research, air pollution hastens the occlusion of arteries, increasing the risk of ischemic heart disease."

Effects of Air Pollution:

The air pollution information shows that increasing air pollution can have an adverse effect on plants, animals, and humans.

  • Global warming

Air Pollution can increase the amount of global warming as the temperature of the earth will keep rising with the emission of harmful gases. With rising global temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice from colder places and icebergs, relocation, and habitat loss, an imminent crisis has already been signaled if preservation and normalization measures are not done soon.

  • Acid rain 

When water droplets combine with harmful chemicals and pollutants, it will lead to acid rain. When fossil fuels are burned, harmful chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are emitted into the environment. When it rains, the water droplets interact with the contaminants in the air, becoming acidic and falling to the earth as acid rain. Acid rain has the potential to harm humans, animals, and agriculture.

  • Ozone layer Depletion

All this will eventually lead to depletion of the ozone layer that protects us from harmful UV sun rays. The presence of chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is degrading the ozone layer on Earth.

As the ozone layer thins, damaging rays are emitted back to Earth, potentially causing skin and eye problems. UV rays have the power to harm crops as well.

Thus, we have to work on the prevention of air pollution.

Effects on Animals

Increasing air pollution affects animals and aquatic life, leading them to stray and wander for food. Many of the animals are on the verge of extinction because of this. Animals, sometimes known as wildlife, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Acid rain, heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and other harmful compounds are all pollution concerns.

Insects, worms, clams, fish, birds, and mammals all have diverse ways of interacting with their surroundings. As a result, each animal's exposure to and vulnerability to the effects of air pollution is unique.

Air pollution has two major effects on wildlife.

It has an impact on the area or habitat in which they reside, as well as the food supply's availability and quality.

Air Pollution Control

It is not easy to control air pollution, but it will require some simple steps like:

  • Avoid Using Vehicles

Prefer using public transport as it will reduce the emission of CO into the air. The availability of carpools can help in the reduction of vehicles which in turn reduces pollution. Prefer walking or cycling to nearby places and many such.

  • Energy Conservation

Use energy-efficient electrical devices at the workplace and home place. You can keep your lights switched off when not in use. The electrical appliances should be checked on a regular notice period so that it won’t affect the conservation.

  • Use of Clean Energy Resources

It will help to reduce the pollution level. Instead of using fossil fuels, we can use natural resources to produce energy like Solar Energy, Wind Energy, etc.

By decreasing and eliminating the usage of fire and fire-related items.

Because industrial emissions are one of the leading causes of air pollution, the pollutants can be reduced by controlling or treating them at the source. If a given raw material's reactions produce a pollutant, for example, the raw materials can be replaced with less harmful materials.

Another method of reducing pollution is to use different fuels. CNG – Compressed Natural Gas–powered vehicles are replacing petrol and diesel vehicles in many parts of India. Vehicles that aren't fully equipped with optimal emission engines are the most likely to use these.

Although India has a number of practices aimed at improving air quality, most of them have been forgotten or are not well implemented. There are still many automobiles on the road that haven't had their emissions tested.

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FAQs on Air Pollution Control

1. What are the Types of Air Pollution?

There are 4 major harmful types of air pollution – carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matters and lead pollution

2. How Can the Use of Air Conditioners Cause Air Pollution?

The air conditioners release a gas called CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) which increases air pollution and adversely affects the ozone layer as well.

3. How Many People Can Die from Air Pollution?

According to the statistics provided by WHO, around 7 million people die every year just because of the various effects of air pollution.

4. What is the Air Quality Index?

The air quality index is measured by and used by the official pollution control authorities to show to the public how polluted the air currently is. It’s a measure that shows how polluted the air that we breathe in.

5. What are the Measures for the Control of Air Pollution?

Various methods can be undertaken to control air pollution – we can start by reducing the use of private cars, buying the electric appliances that have an energy star label, conserving energy whenever possible, and making less use of air conditioners.

6. How Can We Succeed in the Prevention of Air Pollution?

Prevention of air pollution will be a difficult task, but not an impossible one.  Apart from the individual efforts, the government authorities and the pollution control authorities should issue strict guidelines for it. Also, a good alternative should be provided for fuels and other industrial pollutants.

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