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Air pollution: Saving Our Planet


 

Introduction to Air pollution

Air pollution has been a topic of discussion in almost all the seminars on nature. Stated in simple terms air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to human beings. It is prevalent in varying degrees throughout the world. In fact, the air in some areas is so polluted it is detrimental to humans. Air pollution has no one source and doesn’t have a simple solution. It is caused by a multitude of events and requires complex methods to fight it.

Air Pollution is considered one of the most prominent health hazards in nature because it is all over the world. Researchers once thought pollutants in the air only affected the respiratory organs. Now new research shows that air pollution also cause a multitude of Cardiovascular diseases, neuroglial, reproductive and immune system disorders (NIEHS, 2019).

Air Pollution has reached a point that makes recovery almost impossible and will require many decades of effective measures from governments around the world to clean the global atmosphere.  It is currently one of the leading factors of deaths. Almost 5 million people die from air pollution each year(Our world in data, 2017). This makes air pollution accounts for 9% of total deaths each year globally(Our world in data, 2017). Although many guidelines and standards have been brought up by International organizations, the problem has been fixed. We need to work more to combat pollution. Hence, we require strict actions and laws from governments to find a solution to the air pollution problem . Such actions require the government to take some steps towards environmental protection and not focus on capitalism at all times.

Climate Change

Air pollution has also been the leading cause of Climate change and global warming. Both create a problem for the continuity of the human race for generations to come. One way to save our planet and future generations is to follow sustainable  development concepts that push countries to make protect the environment when making economic decisions.

There is also the concept of Climate Justice, which the United Nation’s implemented with its Sustainable Cities Program. The program implements “capacity-building and institutional strengthening facilities with the goal of ensuring environmentally sustainable local developments fully realize the vital contributions urban areas make to overall social and economic development” (UN Habit for a better future). The overall purpose of the program is to promote environmentally friendly business practices. Different governments can adopt these concepts. If effectively pursued, greater air quality will improve throughout the world.

Causes of Air pollution

There are multiple causes of air pollution. The air pollution results in the release of harmful substances in the air and is a result of human carelessness. Natural calamities like forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and dust storms also pollute our air (Solar Impulse,2017). To better understand the causes of air pollution we can classify it into various divisions. Visible Air Pollution: the term is pretty self-explanatory, this type of pollution is visible like the smog over a city.

Invisible Air Pollution: is not visible to the naked eyes and not as noticeable but it can prove to be very deadly. If we chose to dive deeper into this, we can further divide pollutants into primary and secondary pollutants.

Primary pollutants are : those which are a direct result of some process(National Geographic,2019). Sulfur-dioxide from factories is an example of this.

Secondary Pollutants: result from the mixing of multiple types of pollutants. An example of secondary pollutants is smog. Smog is formed by the intermingling  of many primary pollutants.

Pollution Sources

The sources of pollution are divided into natural and man-made sources. Man-made sources are further subdivided into indoor pollution sources and outdoor pollution sources. Now some of the major causes of air pollution are as follows:

1.Burning of Fossil Fuels: Many environmental experts have pointed out that air pollution is caused by the use and production of energy sources. The major sources of energy in this world are still fossil fuels. Therefore, the  consumption of fossil fuels is a major issue and contributor in the spread and intensification of this problem.  

Sulfur Dioxide is one of the major contributors of air pollution throughout the world. Burning fossil fuels like coal and petroleum create sulfur dioxide .

The fuels powering our vehicles consist of petroleum which create Hydro Carbons that also pollute the air. Inefficiencies in the engines make it impossible to burn the petroleum completely and efficiently. This leads to the release of harmful chemicals like PM, NO2, Nitric Oxide, Carbon Monoxide and Lead. The emission of such molecules in the atmosphere makes up a huge part of pollution (conserve energy future,2020).

Agriculture and Deforestation

2.Agriculture: Due to the heavy dependance on modern methods of farming which includes use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers toxins are released into atmosphere. Ammonia is also one of the most harmful substances in air and it is a major part modern farming activities.

3.Deforestation: deforestation helps aggravate the impact of air pollution in many ways.

Deforestation causes the reduction in trees and leads to accumulation of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. (conserve energy future,2018).

More Causes

4.Mining: mining is the process of extraction of minerals from beneath the ground, in this process there is a constant release of particulate matter and chemicals in the air. It is also has a detrimental effects on the health of mine workers (conserve energy future,2018).

5.Exhaust from Factories and Industries: Manufacturing Industries release a lot of harmful gases and chemicals like Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons and organic compounds in the air. Due to the sheer reach of these industries, they are now becoming one of the major threats to our global atmosphere(National Geographic,2019).

6. Indoor Pollution: In many households, indoor pollution is caused by fossil fuel usage, household cleaning products and paints. Households burn fossil fuels when heating homes and cooking. This is also a major cause of premature deaths worldwide. In addition, the release of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) from cleaning products and paints is another source of air pollution.

It is up to us to change our ways and save our planet.

Health Effects

The effects of air pollution are divided into health and environmental . It is detrimental to human health in many ways and is a leading cause of deaths worldwide. The effects of Air Pollution on humans are as follows:

1.Respiratory and Health Problems: air pollution is harmful for the lungs and the cardiovascular system.

Research also shows that it leads to reproductive and hormonal problems. In addition, several million people die every year either directly or indirectly from air pollution.

2.Child Health Problems: Air pollution can also affect us before our birth. Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can result to miscarriages, premature birth, autism and asthma. Air pollution also causes damage to brain development. Furthermore, it can cause pneumonia in children. Pneumonia is one of the major causes of deaths in children under 5 years of age (Department of environmental protection Massachusetts). Pollutants also cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

There are also major environmental concerns relating to Air Pollution:

Environmental Effects

1. Acid Rain: acid rain is the precipitation that contains high amounts of nitric acid and sulfuric acid, created by the emission of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide from the burning of fossil fuels (conserve energy future,2020).

2. Eutrophication: A phenomenon in which high amount of nitrogen from pollutants are deposited on the surface of waterbodies and form algae. This algae adversely affects the plants and animals living under the surface. The green colored substance we see on the surface of water bodies around us is the result of this phenomenon (conserve energy future 2020).

3. Global Warming: Another effect is global warming. Global warming is the depletion of the Ozone Layer caused by the presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. If we do not work to preserve and restore the Earth, environmental problems will devastate the globe(conserve energy future 2018).

 Reduction

There are many ways to reduce pollution. First, raise awareness about how it increases and impacts our local , regional environment and our daily life including our health etc. Human and anthropogenic activities create the most pollutants on the planet. As stated before, activities like deforestation, emissions from vehicles or transportation, harmful chemical gas emissions from industrial sectors, mining operations and burning of fossil fuels are polluting our natural environment. They eventually lead global warming to get worse. t

To reduce pollutants in the atmosphere, we need to control and set some limitations on our toxic activities (National Geographic,2019). For example, use public transportation instead of personal car.  Governments should also impose strict limitation on industrial gas emissions. We also need to increase dependency on renewable source of energy like solar power and hydro power to generate electricity or energy. By promoting environmentally safe practices, we can successfully reduce pollutants t from the atmosphere (NIH, 2019).

Conclusion

We have  dug ourselves into such a deep hole, that it will require us at least three or four decades to restore our atmosphere to a healthy condition. The most important thing is to make people aware of the devastating of air pollution and how it can make life difficult for future generations.

Since older generations could not stop air pollution because they were not taking precautions, it is up to us to bring about the needed change. This should be our priority. We need to minimize our carbon footprint and try to reduce burden on the next generations. As important as it is for us to keep progressing industrially and developing, it is also necessary that we follow the policy of sustainable development throughout all proceedings and make sure that we don’t create problems for the environment while making progress.

Stop the Spread

In order to reduce and stop it , policies will need to be implemented globally. For example, developing countries need help obtaining energy production machines that produce less pollutants.

Researchers and scientist have formulated solutions to save our planet. Encouraging people to change their habits is still the task at hand and requires efforts of many environmental organizations. Thus implementation of policies and ground work will be the key for coming years.

Some last words, saving the environment is not a burden, but a responsibility for all human being. It’s like climbing a ladder to escape from a hole that we dug for ourselves.

  Reference

1. Air Pollution and Your Health, (2019), NIH Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/air-pollution/index.cfm

2.Ritchie & Roser, (2017, April 17). Air Pollution. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://ourworldindata.org/air-pollution

3.Nunez, C. (2019, June 25). Air Pollution Causes, Effects, and Solutions. Retrieved October 30,2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/

4. Rinkesh, (2020, June 17), Causes, Effects and Impressive Solutions to Air Pollution. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-solutions-of-air-pollution.php

 5.  Health-and-env-effects-air-pollutions.pdf, Department of environmental protection Massachusetts (2019). Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KDGjtMDltLwHv_KFYMa6akPYKv6IJ6ot/viw

            6. Sustainable Cities Programme ,United Nations, Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.fukuoka.unhabitat.org/programmes/detail04_03_en.html

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