Air Pollution

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Air Pollution

Air pollution is the presence of unwanted harmful substances within the Earth’s atmosphere and it exists because of both human and natural activities.

Nature adds pollutants to the air via many processes such as forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and dry soil erosions. However, naturally caused pollutants are generally filtered out by processes such as the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle whereas humans can cause an overload of pollutants which aren’t effectively filtered. A large accumulation of such substances can cause a variety of health issue for humans and wildlife.

Consider these air pollution facts:

  • It is estimated that in 2012, around 7 million people died as a result of air pollution.
  • 3 million deaths are caused by indoor air pollution every year.
  • 4% of disease is caused by indoor air pollution.
  • The amount of oil required to produce one plastic water bottle is roughly 1/4 the amount of that bottle. Each American alone drinks as much as 30.2 gallons of water per year. The transportation for this large of an amount of oil releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into our air.
  • More pollution facts and their sources.
  • Human caused air pollution includes:

    • Factories and power plants

    The industrial revolution has brought about many factories. These manufacturing plants emit toxic fumes which go into the air. These fumes carry dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, especially in heavily populated areas. Heavily industrialized areas tend to have higher levels of air pollution and large cities usually have the most polluted air thanks to the amount of people which rely on the supplies that these factories manufacture.

    One of the major causes for pollution is the burning of fossil fuels. Almost all of the

    air pollution
    Image by eutrophication&hypoxia

    vehicles we use for transportation emit fossil fuels. Everything which burns gasoline from cars to airplanes require fossil fuels to work.  This problem is very difficult to manage because people largely rely on these vehicles for transportation. The gases released from vehicle exhaust are very harmful to breathe and cause health problems for people.

    • Chemicals

    There are all sorts of cleaning products and household supplies which, when sprayed, will emit chemicals into the air which cause air pollution. A lot of farming products and practices such as crop dusting, pesticides, and fertilizer also emit more chemicals and cause harm to people who breathe them.

    • Waste Deposition

    Landfills cause air pollution as well because the garbage which accumulates causes a buildup of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is capable of trapping heat and therefore can contribute to problems such as global warming.

    Why is Air Pollution Bad?

    Air pollution is bad because it causes us to breathe harmful toxins, makes us sick, and increases our medical bills each year. Air pollution also causes water pollution because the toxins can also form acid rain which in turns goes into our water supply. Due to these toxins, the effects of air pollution are known to damage our environment and wildlife significantly. It is important to consider how the industrial revolution brought about many sudden changes which caused a shock to our environment and many plants and wildlife have not had time to adapt to these changes.

    Ways we can combat air pollution

    The way to combat air pollution is to simply be mindful of not using more resources than you need. This means burning less fuels and making less frivolous purchases at the supermarket.

  • Spend less time driving and invest in vehicles which burn less fuel
  • Transportation is a major cause of air pollution and it is of course a necessity for many people, so it is not practical to suggest that we just stop driving cars. However, many places are accessible simply by walking or riding a bicycle. It is often only out of habit that people decide to drive their cars to certain places when they could just walk or ride their bicycles instead. Furthermore there are many options available which burn less fuel than by driving a car such as hybrid cars and motorcycles. Opting for these cleaner transportation modes is not only beneficial for cleaner air but is also healthier as they can provide a form of physical exercises.

  • Purchase items locally
  • If you purchase items which were manufactured close to where you live, you are not only supporting your community and helping make it a better place, but you are also cutting the distance which these resources need to travel. If you think about it, there is no reason to purchase imported tomatoes from another country or continent if a farm near your city is perfectly capable of supplying these same tomatoes to you. If we adopt this mindset about all of our products, this means that we support our local businesses and we help cut thousands of unwanted emissions of pollutants into our air for transport.