Pollution is one of the greatest problems the world is facing today. Anything that leads to the contamination of natural environments like land, air, water, and so on can be termed as pollution. Pollution can cause a greater threat to the environment which can affect the lives of animals and plants in a harmful way. There is land pollution, air pollution, water pollution, etc. Here, we will discuss air pollution in detail and how to prevent it. We will see the control measures of air pollution.
To prevent air pollution from happening, we have to learn what causes air pollution. Let us understand what air pollution is.
What is Pollution?
Pollution is defined as anything that causes the contamination of the environment. Pollution occurs when harmful substances are introduced into the environment. We can divide the pollution into different types of pollution depending upon the environment in which pollution occurs. The different types of pollution are air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, and so on. The substance which causes pollution is called pollutants. These pollutants can be harmful chemicals, gases, or even solid substances like plastic, etc. The prevention of any kind of pollution is possible if we can identify the pollutants that are polluting the environment. If we could find a way to stop these pollutants from reaching the environment. We will learn more about air pollution here and also about the preventive measures that help in the control of air pollution. There are different air pollution solutions we must follow to control air pollution.
Air pollution is the contamination of the earth’s atmosphere due to the presence of harmful substances in the air. Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the atmosphere that causes serious health or environmental threats. But the important question that arises is what causes air pollution and what change it can cause to the atmosphere?
It is a misconception that air pollution is caused only by human activities. Not only through human activity, but air pollution can also occur through natural processes. Well, there is some air pollution that comes from natural sources like volcanic eruptions, wildfires, or substances that can cause allergic reactions. But most air pollution occurs from human activities. There are different types of human-made pollution. Let us discuss some of the important causes of air pollution due to human activities.
Emission of Greenhouse Gases
When we burn fossil fuels, it produces heat energy along with byproducts. Some of the byproducts can act as pollutants. They release greenhouse gases into the air. These emissions like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases trap the heat coming from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere. This leads to a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere all over the place. This rise in global temperature creates cycles of air pollution that contribute to climate change. These climate changes produce a rise in temperature. This higher temperature in turn magnifies some types of air pollution. For example, climate changes increase smog because smog is formed in the presence of high temperatures and increased levels of ultraviolet radiation. The most frequent extreme weather condition such as flooding contributes to damp conditions therefore a rise in mold. The formation of molds can cause a variety of health problems when we are exposed to them. Warmer weather also leads to long pollen seasons. This leads to more production of pollen which is considered an allergen.
Formation of Smog
The word smog arises from combining the words smoke and fog. Smog is formed when the smoke arising from the burning of coal combines with the moisture in the atmosphere. Smog is a type of air pollution that reduces visibility by the formation of a yellow-brownish screen. Smog can cause some serious health problems.
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There are two types of smog, namely sulphurous fog, and photochemical smog. Sulphurous smogs are caused due to the burning of sulphur bearing fossil fuels such as coal and the formation of sulphur oxides. The photochemical smog is formed due to the chemical reaction between the sunlight, nitrous oxide, and volatile organic compounds. Nitrous oxide is produced in the atmosphere by car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions. But in the case of nonvolatile organic compounds, it reaches the atmosphere from petroleum products, paints, and many cleaning solvents.
In some countries, smog gives a very poor vision such that it makes it very difficult for the drivers to travel in vehicles. Apart from reduced visibility, smog is harmful to plants and animals and causes respiratory diseases.
Another type of important air pollution is the release of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. These toxic pollutants include chemicals such as mercury, lead, dioxins, and benzene that are released into the atmosphere by the burning of coal, combustion of waste in waste incinerators, burning of petroleum products, emissions from factories, and so on. The release of these toxic pollutants into the atmosphere not adversely affects the environment but also causes serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive complications, birth defects, etc. The chemical gas wastes released from the chimneys of the factories can cause intense respiratory problems to people who are living in the nearby areas of the factories.
Prevention of Air Pollution
We have seen the different causes of air pollution through human activities. Their adverse effects on the environment and health are also discussed. Now, it is time to see how we can prevent air pollution by taking control measures of air pollution. Air pollution can be reduced only if there is a collective effort from everyone’s side. There are 10 different ways given below that help in the control of air pollution.
1. Use of Public Transport: The burning of fossil fuels is one of the most important causes of air pollution. If most people use public transport, then the number of vehicles on the road decreases and thereby decreases the burning of fossil fuels. The less burning of fuels leads to less amount of greenhouse gases being emitted which in turn reduces global warming.
2. Reduce the Consumption of Electricity: We can reduce the electricity consumption in our homes by switching off the lights and appliances when not in use. Electricity is produced from the burning of fossil fuels in some places. Hence, reducing electricity consumption can greatly reduce air pollution.
3. Recycling and Reuse of Products: Some of the products which are thrown away after use can be recycled and reused for a cleaner environment. It takes less energy to recycle than manufacturing the same products and thereby reducing the chemical emissions.
4. Avoid Plastic Bags: Plastic bags are becoming a curse to the environment. Most of the plastic bags are not recyclable and reused. It takes a long time to decompose into the soil. Also the burning of plastic releases poisonous gases into the air. The plastic gas can be replaced by paper bags which can be decomposed easily.
5. Avoid Burning of Plastics: Burning of plastics and other similar materials release poisonous gases in the atmosphere which worsens the condition of the air. Make use of the waste management plans by the government to dispose of plastic materials.
6. Avoid Air Conditioners and Use Fans: The heat released by the air conditioner into the atmosphere is greater than the heat it absorbs from the room. This greater heat released into the air causes global warming. The freon gas which is used as a refrigerant causes the depletion of ozone layers which prevents the harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the surface of the earth.
7. Use Filters in Chimneys: The smoke released from chimneys contains air pollutants that worsen the quality of air. However, using filters in chimneys can prevent air pollutants from reaching the earth's atmosphere to a greater extent.
8. Avoid Crackers and Fireworks: The burning of crackers and fireworks causes air pollution. During festivals, the use of large amounts of fireworks and crackers worsen the quality of air and can cause poor visibility.
9. Reduce the Use of Chemicals: The chemicals released into the atmosphere can act as air pollutants. The toxic pollutants are released from body sprays, paints which pollute the air at a greater rate.
10. Planting more Trees: The plants can purify the air by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen during the time of photosynthesis. This reduces the greenhouse effect and thereby decreases air pollution again. Planting more trees also helps to avoid global warming.
Therefore, we have seen different causes and prevention of air pollution. Now, the time has come for us to act and save our earth. The Government of India has taken measures to reduce air pollution by imposing the prevention of air pollution act. We can download the motor vehicles rule for the prevention of air pollution in PDF format from government websites.
Air pollution is the contamination of air by the introduction of air pollutants. Air pollution can happen due to natural processes as well as human activities. Natural processes like a volcanic eruption, wildfire, and mold formation. Air pollution is mainly due to human activities. This includes the burning of fossil fuels, emission of greenhouse gases, the release of toxic pollutants, and so on. Air pollution can cause serious health problems like respiratory disease, cancer, birth defects, and so on. Prevention of air pollution is possible if there is a collective effort from everyone. We have already seen some of the control measures of air pollution that can be followed by everyone easily.