Effect of air pollution on the environment

Introduction

Pollution is something introduced into the environment that is dirty, unclean or harms human health. Air pollution can be defined as the presence of toxic chemicals or compounds in the air, at levels that pose a health risk.

Effect of air pollution on the environmentIn an even broader sense, air pollution means the presence of chemicals or compounds in the air which are usually not present and which lower the quality of air or cause detrimental changes to the quality of life. Air pollution refers to a physical, chemical and biological change in the atmospheric air. It is a result of harmful gasses, smoke, or dust that enters the atmosphere and hinders the survival of animals and plants as the air contains toxic substances.

Air pollution is probably one of the most serious environmental problems confronting our civilization today. Most often, it is caused by human activities such as mining, construction, transportation, industrial work, agriculture, and smelting. Some natural processes such as volcanic eruption and wildfires may also pollute the air, but their occurrence is rare and they usually have a local effect, unlike human activities that are the ubiquitous cause of air pollution and contribute to the global pollution of the air every single day.

Air is necessary for all living things. It has a physical and chemical composition. The quality of air changes by the addition of contaminated gasses. In Pakistan, air pollution is also a big issue. Air pollution in Pakistan’s urban region is among the most severe environmental issue in the world and it also caused a human health hazard and damage the economy. Mostly carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are the major gasses that kill living things. Air pollution causes many diseases like eye irritation, sneezing, coughing, and headache.

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Causes of air pollution

Burning of fossil fuel

Air pollution is due to primary and secondary sources. If the process directly pollutes the air like the release of sulfur dioxide from factories is primary pollution. Sulfur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuel like coal, petroleum and other factory combustibles is one the major cause of air pollution. Pollution emitting from vehicles including trucks, jeeps, cars, trains, causes an immense amount of pollution. We rely on them to fulfill our daily basics needs of transportation. The unethical and careless burning of solid waste leads to the production of toxic gasses like volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and particulate matter into the environment which affect the air badly.

Agriculture activities

Ammonia is a very common byproduct of agriculture-related activities and is one of the most hazardous gasses in the atmosphere. Continuously use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers in agriculture has grown quite a lot. They emit harmful chemicals into the air. In Pakistan burning of residues is a common practice followed by farmers which causes pollution by producing particulate matter. Particulate matter leads to some serious problems in the environment like the production of smog, eye irritation, respiratory diseases, and dust. The Urea used in Pakistan on a large scale. Urea has a large amount of nitrogen.

Industrial Waste

Manufacturing industries release a large amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air these compounds depleting the air quality. Manufacturing industries can be found at every corner of the earth and no area has not been affected by it. Petroleum refineries also release hydrocarbons and various other chemicals that pollute the air. A large number of small or medium scale industries like bricks kiln, re-rolling steel mills, recycling of steel and plastic forming factories contributed at high rates in urban air pollution.  To defeat the electricity shortage problem usage of small diesel power generators also added-up in air pollution. Low or unbalanced of industrial appliances also causes air pollution.

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Mining operations

Mining is a process in which minerals below the earth are extracted by using large equipment. During the mining operations, chemicals and dust are released in air which causing massive air pollution. This is the main reason which responsible for the health hazards of worker and nearby residents.

Effect of air pollution

Respiratory and heart problems

The effect of air pollution is horrible. It creates several respiratory and heart problems along with cancer, among other threats to the body. Several million people died have died due to the direct and indirect effects of air pollution. Children in areas exposed to air pollution are said to commonly suffer from pneumonia and asthma.

Global warming

Another direct effect is the immediate alterations that the world is witnessing due to global warming. With increased temperature worldwide, an increase in sea level and melting of ice from colder regions and icebergs, displacement and loss of habitat have already signaled.

Acid rain

Harmful gasses like sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are released in the air due to the burning of fossil fuels. When it rains, the water droplets combine with these air pollutants, becomes acidic and then falls on the ground in the form of acid rain. Acid rain can cause great damage to humans, crops, and animals. Acid rain also damages some famous places.

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Eutrophication

Eutrophication is a condition where a high amount of nitrogen present in some pollutants gets developed on the sea’s surface and turns itself into algae and adversely affects fish, plants and animal species. The green-colored algae which present on lakes and ponds are due to the presence of this chemical only.

Effect on wildlife

Animals also face some devastating effects of air pollution. Toxic chemicals present in the air can enforcement wildlife species to move to a new place and change their habitat. The toxic pollutants deposit over the surface of the water and can also affect sea animals.

Ozone layer depletion

Ozone is a layer that exists in the earth’s stratosphere and it responsible for protecting humans from harmful ultraviolet rays. Earth’s ozone layer is depleting due to the presence of chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. As the ozone layer will go thin, it will emit harmful rays back on earth and can cause skin and eye-related problems. Ultraviolet rays also can affect crops.

Solutions

  • Use public mode of transportation
  • Controlling post-combustion.
  • Conserve energy
  • Control dust particles.
  • Understand the concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
  • Solid waste management.
  • Prevent forest fires.
  • Bans on open burning.
  • Agriculture residues management.
  • Improving road vehicles.
  • Improving industrial emission standards.

Conclusion

Air pollution is a very big problem in the whole world. It is due to the lack of awareness of the people. People should use public transport and follow the role. Air pollution increase day by day due to the shifting of people rural to urban areas, without achieving targeted measurements for the reduction of urban air pollution this issue could become worse in upcoming times and may affect individuals at a higher rate. The government should seriously think about this problem and developed the institute to give awareness to people and make a project to control air pollution.

Author: munawar hussain

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