The Earth and its environment are facing a serious threat by the increasing pollution of the air, water, and soil—the vital life support systems of the Earth. The damage of the environment is caused by improper management of resources or by careless human activity. Hence any activity that violates the original character of nature and leads to its degradation is called pollution. We need to understand the sources of these pollutants and find ways to control pollution. This can be also done by making people aware of the effects of pollutants.
Air with 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% of all other gases support life on Earth. Various processes take place to sustain the regular percentage of gases and their composition in general.
Atmospheric pollution can have natural sources, for example, volcanic eruptions. The gaseous by-products of man-made processes such as energy production, waste incineration, transport, deforestation and agriculture, are the major air pollutants.
Although air is made up of mostly Oxygen and Nitrogen, mankind, through pollution, has increased the levels of many trace gases, and in some cases, released completely new gases to the atmosphere.
Air pollution can result in poor air quality, both in cities and in the countryside. Some air pollutants make people sick, causing breathing problems and increasing the likelihood of cancer.
Some air pollutants are harmful to plants, animals, and the ecosystems in which they live. Statues, monuments, and buildings are being corroded by the air pollutants in the form of acid rain. It also damages crops and forests, and makes lakes and streams unsuitable for fish and other plant and animal life.
Air pollution created by man-made resources is also changing the Earth’s atmosphere. It is causing the depletion of the ozone layer and letting in more harmful radiation from the Sun. The greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere prevents heat from escaping back into space and leads to a rise in global average temperatures. Global warming affects the average sea-level and increases the spread of tropical diseases.
Air pollution occurs when large amounts of gas and tiny particles are released into the air and the ecological balance is disturbed. Each year millions of tons of gases and particulate matter are emitted into the air.
Primary air pollutants are pollutants, which are directly released into the air. They are called SPM, i.e., Suspended Particulate Matter. For example, smoke, dust, ash, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and radioactive compounds, etc.
Secondary Pollutants are pollutants, which are formed due to chemical interactions between the atmospheric components and primary pollutants. For example, Smog (i.e. Smoke and fog), ozone, etc.
Major gaseous air pollutants include Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide, etc.
Natural sources are volcanic eruptions, forest fires, dust storms, etc.
Man-made sources include gases released from the automobiles, industries, burning of garbage and bricks kilns, etc.
Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
Air pollution has adverse effects on human health.
Breathing polluted air puts you at higher risk of asthma.
When exposed to ground ozone for 6 to 7 hours, people suffer from respiratory inflammation.
Damages the immune system, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
A high level of air pollution has been associated with higher incidents of heart problems.
The toxic chemicals released into the air are affecting the flora and fauna immensely.
Preventive Measures to Reduce Air Pollution
We can prevent pollution by utilizing raw materials, water energy, and other resources more efficiently. When less harmful substances are substituted for hazardous ones, and when toxic substances are eliminated from the production process, human health can be protected and economic wellbeing can be strengthened.
There are several measures that can be adopted by people to reduce pollution and to save the environment.
Promotion of public transport.
No smoking zone.
Restricted use of fossil fuels.
Encouraging organic farming.
The government has put restrictions on the amount of fossil fuels that can be used as well as restrictions on how much carbon dioxide and other pollutants can be emitted. Although the government is attempting to save our environment from these harmful gases, it is not sufficient. We as a society need to keep the environment clean by controlling the pollution of air.
Q1. State the Causes of Air Pollution.
Ans. The following are the causes of air pollution.
Vehicular pollution consisting of Carbon Monoxide causes pollution.
Emission of Nitrogen oxide by a large number of supersonic transport airplanes causes deterioration of the Ozone layer and also causes serious damage to the flora and fauna.
The release of Chlorofluorocarbons into the Stratosphere causes depletion of Ozone, which is a serious concern to animals, microscopic, and aquatic organisms.
Burning garbage causes smoke, which pollutes the atmosphere. This smoke contains harmful gases such as Carbon dioxide and Nitrogen oxides.
In India, brick kilns are used for many purposes and coal is used to burn the bricks. They give out huge quantities of Carbon dioxide and particulate matter such as smoke, dust that are very harmful to people working there and the areas surrounding it.
Many cleansing agents release poisonous gases such as Ammonia and Chlorine into the atmosphere.
Radioactive elements emit harmful rays into the air.
Decomposed animals and plants emit Methane and Ammonia gas into the air.
Q2. What Does Global Warming Mean?
Ans. Global warming is the gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere due to the concentration of certain poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, methane in it. It is greatly affecting the world’s climate.
Q3. Name the Alternative Modes of Transport. In What Way Does it Help to Reduce Air Pollution?
Ans. Public transport could be an alternative mode of transport. Public transport like trains, buses and trams, can relieve traffic congestion and reduce air pollution from road transport. The use of public transport must be encouraged in order to develop a sustainable transport policy.