What is Air Pollution?
Air pollution can be defined as the contamination of the atmosphere with anomalous concentrations of substances that are harmful to the health of human beings and other organisms.Typical examples of air pollutants include sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons (often abbreviated to CFCs), and methane. Air pollution is a serious environmental concern since it can cause several diseases in human beings, some even resulting in death. Therefore, the prevention of air pollution is very important. Air pollution is also known to have an adverse impact on a wide spectrum of life forms including crops and animals. It can be noted that air pollution can occur due to natural processes or human activity, the latter being more predominant (air pollution caused by human activity is generally referred to as anthropogenic air pollution).
For a variety of pollution-related diseases including heart disease, respiratory infections, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, and stroke, air pollution is known to be a major risk factor. The consequences of poor air quality on human health are far ranging, but primarily affect the respiratory system of the body along with the cardiovascular system. The type of pollutant a person is exposed to, the health status and genetics of the individual, and the degree of exposure determine the individual reactions to air pollutants. Indoor air pollution and low urban air quality are known to be classified as two of the world’s worst toxic pollution problems.
What are Air Pollutants?
Any material that is present in the environment and can have harmful effects on human beings and the ecosystem can be categorized as an air pollutant. Air pollutants can assume the form of particulate matter, gaseous substances, and droplets that exist in the liquid state. Such pollutants can be of natural or man-made origin. Air pollutants are generally categorized as secondary or primary pollutants. Natural processes (such as the ash produced from a volcanic eruption) typically create primary contaminants. The sulphur dioxide emitted from factories or the carbon monoxide gas produced from motor vehicle exhausts are other examples of primary contaminants.
Secondary contaminants do not enter the atmosphere from direct emissions. Instead, as primary contaminants react or communicate, they form secondary contaminants in the atmosphere. An important example of a secondary pollutant is ground level ozone. Some contaminants can be both primary and secondary: both directly emitted from natural or anthropogenic activity or produced from other primary pollutants.
How can Air Pollution be Prevented?
Some important measures that can be adopted by individuals to contribute towards the prevention of air pollution have been listed below.
- Usage of public transport and carpooling – by reducing the amount of fuel combusted for an individual’s transportation needs, he/she can lower the amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere and cause less air pollution. Furthermore, these options are also economically efficient and can help save money as well.
- Switching off the lights when they’re not in use – the majority of our electricity is produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, which are a huge contributor towards air pollution. Therefore, conserving electricity is an effective way of preventing air pollution.
- Reusing and recycling products – By reusing products (that can be reused), the amount of energy that goes into manufacturing another one of those products is conserved. Furthermore, recycling of products is also more energy-efficient than the manufacture of new ones.
- Avoiding the burning of garbage and smoking – burning of garbage is a huge contributor to air pollution. Another contributor to air pollution is cigarette smoking. Avoiding these activities and spreading awareness of their negative consequences can be of great help in the prevention of air pollution.
- Avoiding the use of firecrackers – firecrackers are generally used to celebrate certain occasions. However, they are known to cause severe air pollution and are, therefore, extremely harmful to the environment. Personally avoiding the use of firecrackers and spreading awareness about their negative consequences is a great way to help prevent air pollution.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Prevention of Air Pollution
List some examples of air pollutants.
Typical examples of air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons (often abbreviated to CFCs), nitrous oxides, and methane.
What are the threats posed by air pollution to human health?
Air pollution can cause several health problems in human beings such as respiratory infections, heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, and strokes.
What is meant by the term ‘air pollutant’?
An air pollutant can be any material that is present in the environment and has the potential to have harmful effects on the ecosystem and on human health. Air pollutants can exist in the sollid, liquid, and gaseous state. Air pollutants can be of natural or man-made origin.
What are secondary contaminants?
Secondary contaminants are a class of air pollutants that don’t enter the atmosphere from direct emissions. Instead, they are formed when primary contaminants react with each other.
How can air pollution be prevented?
Air pollution can be prevented by advocating the use of public transport and carpooling. It can also be controlled by avoiding wastage of electricity and practicing reuse and recycling of compatible products.