The world is surrounded by air known as atmosphere. Atmosphere assists in protecting the earth and enables life to exist. Without the atmosphere the earth could have been burned by the intense heat from the sun. Clean air is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, and argon and small traces of other gases like carbon dioxide. Air pollution is contamination of air through the introduction of particles such as biological molecules and other harmful substances into the atmosphere; the particles introduced into the air can cause diseases, allergies, environment damage, and death. The things that pollute the air are called pollutants; they are solid, liquid, or gases, examples are nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, and carbon monoxide.
All the pollutants are classified into two classes, primary and secondary pollutants. Primary pollutants are produced by a process on earth; they include eruption of volcanic mountains; carbon monoxide produced by machines such as vehicles; sulfur dioxide emitted from industries; nitrogen dioxide emitted from high temperature combustion and also produced during thunderstorms by electric discharge; and ammonia produced by agricultural products. Secondary pollutants are not produced by a process instead they are formed in the atmosphere when primary pollutants react with one another, and smog is an example. They are produced from a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide especially in areas where coal are burned in large quantities.
Pollution is caused by various things, the sources of pollution are classified as manmade and naturals causes. Man made causes include burning of fossils. Burning of fossils such as coal, petroleum, and other industries materials release sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, this is one of the main causes of air pollution. Machines such as vehicles and airplanes cause a lot of pollution. Though they have their advantage of assisting in fulfilling our daily basic needs of transport, their overuse kills the environment; incomplete burning of fuels in vehicles produce carbon monoxide which is dangerous for human health.
Agricultural activities are another cause of air pollution. Most agricultural products produce ammonia as a byproduct and ammonia is one of the dangerous gases when released to the atmosphere. The practice of using fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides in agricultural activities release harmful chemicals into the air. Industries and factories also contribute immensely to air pollution. Manufacturing plants release a lot of carbon dioxide, chemicals, and organic compounds into the atmosphere hence depleting air quality. Manufacturing factories right now can be found at every corner of the world and all areas has now been affected. Oil industries release hydrocarbons that also pollute the atmosphere.
Mining pollutes the air as well. It is a process in which minerals below the earth are extracted by use of large machines. In the process of mining dust and chemicals from the earth and machines are released into the atmosphere hence contaminating the air. This has been found to be one of the reasons why health conditions of mining workers deteriorate fast. Pollution also occurs indoors. This results from household cleaning product and paintings emit toxic chemicals into the atmosphere hence causing pollution. For example, when a house is painted it creates a smell that makes it hard for a person inside the house to breathe.
Pollution is dangerous and it has many effects on life of organisms and environment. One effect of pollution is that it affects human respiratory system and causes heart problems. It is also well known to cause some cancer and other body problems. Many people have died directly and indirectly as a result of air pollution. In areas affected most by air pollution children commonly suffer from pneumonia and asthma. A big serious effect of air pollution is global warming. Global warming has resulted in increasing temperatures across the world, in sea level waters and melting of icebergs in poles. Displacement and disappearance of some habitats are signaling an impending global disaster if actions are not taken soon to mitigate global warming.
When harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are emitted into the atmosphere when fuels are burned, it forms acid rain. When water is formed in the sky it combines with these pollutants forming acidic rain, it will tell fall inform of acidic rain. This rain affects plants, humans, and animals. Air pollution also causes eutrophication. This is a condition in which high amount of nitrogen present on some pollutants develops in the surface of the sea and turns itself into a form of algae and it affects marine’s life such as fish. It leads to destruction of ozone layer which is responsible of protecting living things from extreme heat from the sun.
Due to its adverse effects solving the problem has been a priority to many governments and non-governmental organizations. To solve the problem of air pollution the citizens should resort to using public transport instead of private, this will reduce the amount of fuel burned that are released to the atmosphere. The energy should be conserved by using energy saver bulbs and switching off fans and lights when you are out. This will reduce the amount of fossils burned to produce electricity. Understanding the concept of reuse, reduce, and recycle, emphasizing on clean energy and using efficient energy devices.
Vallero, Daniel A. Fundamentals of Air Pollution. , 2014. Internet resource
Harrison, Roy M. Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control. Cambridge: Royal Soc. of Chemistry, 2001.