Car Pollution Facts

Car Pollution

Get some interesting car pollution facts from this article and understand the impact that is being caused on the environment by pollution.

When human life began on this planet, humans survived by adapting themselves to their environment. But as civilization grew, humans invented stuff to make life easier and more comfortable. And one of these greatest inventions was the car. It made traveling less tiring, and also cut down the duration. But there is no denial to the truth that, among the several machines built for the human race, the car has had the biggest impact on the environment. Today, we have reached a stage wherein, we do not live with what the environment provides us, but we remake it for our convenience. One of the primary pollutants emitted into the air comes from the car, and that is carbon monoxide. As reported by the American Lung Association, in the year 1998, nearly 30,000 people died due to car emission. Some deaths occurred only because of car pollution, while in some cases, pollution was a major contributor. Let us now begin with our write up on the car pollution facts, as follows...

Car Pollution Facts and Statistics
One of the most important facts about car pollution is related to the quality of air we breathe day in, day out. In urban areas, nearly 80% of air pollution is the result of the exhaust of so many vehicles, emitting different chemicals into the air. Hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are the main pollutants emitted by a car. In cities, majority of respiratory problems have car pollution as one of the offenders.
One of the interesting car pollution facts to know is, SUVs happen to pollute the air more than cars do.
Many are of the view that cars have made the world a noisy place to stay in. Studies show that about 80% of noise pollution in urban areas are said to be caused by cars. Some experts have even presented their views that the noise can be so damaging that it can affect even the structures of historic buildings, apart from causing permanent hearing damage. And not only this, high noise levels can intensify the stress levels in humans and animals. Many cases have come up wherein, it has been responsible for impairing the heart and the immune system as well. It is surprising to know that annually, thousands of people succumb to the automobile noise.
Coming to another must-know car pollution fact, it is about accidents that cars cause. Of the 10 patients getting admitted in hospital, at least one of them would be there because of a car accident. If we speak of statistics then, the year 2005 witnessed nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States. Two years before that, that is in 2003, this number was 6,325,000, and in 2002 it was 6.316,000. We aren't talking about only pollution here, but other hazards caused by cars.
No one could have imagined the relation between the invention of a car and the drastic climate change that is happening all around us. I am talking about global warming. Coming back to statistics, automobiles contribute to about 25% of the carbon emission in the world. And in the USA, it is 33%. With more number of cars hitting the streets, our Earth will get hotter and hotter with time, and climate and weather would get more unpredictable.
Continuing this session on car pollution information, we always tend to miss out one very important point which is 'the Earth has enough for our need, but not for our greed'. How many of us really ponder on the question of 'what would we do if the Earth's oil reserves go completely empty?' We would use bicycles! But is this the solution? Out of the total oil output in the world, a staggering 57% is utilized by ground vehicles. And to tell you the fact, half of this 57% is burned off in private cars. People have still not realized the importance of buying cars according to the mileage it gives. All they can see is the brand, the make, style, and not to forget luxury.
Some More Quick Car Pollution Facts for Kids
Cars along with trucks and buses, are associated with nearly 3000 cases of cancer.
In China, doctors come across 400,000 cases of respiratory illnesses annually; a major contributor being car pollution.
Speaking of electric car pollution facts, while the car may cause negligible air pollution, the electricity that is generated to recharge the car, is no less polluting than vehicles running on petrol or diesel.
And I would like to take a halt here. Hope you would take away something informative from all these car pollution facts, that this article put up for you. If you ask me about what I took away from reading them, is a question to myself "Is it better to use my car wisely now, or what it would be like to buy a bicycle later for all my traveling?"..

Air Pollution Statistics

Air Pollution Statistics

Air pollution has severe effects on the health of living beings. For the past several years, the government has introduced various measures to control air pollution. Let us take a look at some air pollution statistics to get some information on this issue.

Air pollution has many causes and affects humans, animals and plants in many ways. Air is polluted by the addition of various harmful substances to the atmosphere and rapid industrialization that has led to an increase in the environmental pollution levels. Some of the common sources of pollution are emissions from cars, factories, dust, pollen etc. Inhaling air polluted with these substances can cause various diseases including certain types of cancers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for monitoring the pollution levels and compiling the air pollution statistics in the United States. There are around 4,000 monitoring stations in the country and most of these have been set up in the urban areas.

The Environmental Protection Agency checks the levels of the six pollutants. These are nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead. There are certain allowable limits for each pollutant and the EPA is responsible to ensure that these pollutants do not cross these set limits. The EPA also compiles environmental pollution facts and information so that people are made aware about air pollution. Let us take a look at the air pollution statistics in America.
The toxic releases have reduced by more than 50 million tons since 1970. Carbon monoxide emissions have decreased by around 33%.
The levels of nitrogen oxide which contributes to formation of the ozone has decreased by 12% over the last few years. This is a decrease of about 3.3 million tons each year.
The emissions of sulfur dioxide have decreased and it has shown a decline of 38%, that is, around 13 million tons a year.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are the substances which have significant vapor pressures to affect the environment. These compounds have also shown a decrease of about 42%, which has reduced their presence by 14 million tons per year.
Lead emissions and particulate matter emissions have also seen a decline in the last few years. Particulate matter emissions have been reduced by 9 million tons per year and lead emissions have decreased by 217 thousand tons per year.
Although, these reports are encouraging, there is still a long way to go to realize the goal of pollution free air. Let us now take a look at the air pollution statistics by state.

Air Pollution Statistics by State

State of the Air 2010, a report on the quality of air has revealed that the hard work done by the government and citizens seems to be paying off well as there is a lot of improvement on the quality of air, particularly in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York. The report also pointed out that despite these improvements, unhealthy air posed a threat to around 58% of Americans. According to the report, the most polluted regions of the United States are
Los Angeles
Bakersfield
Visalia-Porterville
Fresno-Madera
Houston
Detroit
Dallas
Hanford-Corcoran
Philadelphia
Cleveland
Washington
Chicago
Louisville
The regions mentioned above are not arranged in any particular order as the levels of pollution in an area are determined by the three parameters, namely, levels of short-term particle pollution, levels of year-round particle pollution and levels of ozone pollution.

To achieve the goal of a clean, pollution-free America, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. The American Lung Association which focuses on improving lung health and quality air has recommended some actions which can help in controlling air pollution. These are:
Cleaning up of power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels.
Reducing the consumption of fuel by carpooling, walking or using the public transport. Biodiesel can also be used as an alternate as not only will it control air pollution but it will also save the non-renewable sources of energy.
Planting a tree every year and by using bio-safe products in homes.
Further research on how to tap solar and wind energy so that dependence on combustible fuels decreases.
The air pollution statistics regarding the effect on living beings reveal that controlling air pollution is one of the most crucial areas that need to be focused on. The most important thing that we as responsible citizens need to remember is that it is not only the duty of the government to have preventive measures in place and instead we can take initiatives too to improve the quality of air. If our future generations are to breathe in fresh air, it is very important that we respect mother nature and help in maintaining its balance. As William Ruckelshaus has aptly said, "Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites".

How to Prevent Air Pollution

Prevent Air Pollution

We all come across these slogans which say , 'Go Green', or 'Recycle' to breathe in clean air... but what are we actually doing about it? Well, you can learn how to prevent air pollution and contribute your bit to make the earth a healthier and cleaner place to live in.

Let us all be very honest! I mean the fact that the issue of pollution control needs immediate attention is something that we all are well aware of... but are we 'seriously' doing anything about it? I mean would you go cycling to work instead of taking your car? If someone told you that there is a high alert and even a little amount of smoke in your surroundings would make you choke to death, I bet you wouldn't even think of driving anything that emits smoke, isn't it? See, we humans wait till the end to make things better, but why wait till the time it's too late? You would be surprised to know that according to the World Health Organization Report in 2004, air pollution was the sole reason behind the premature deaths of 100,000 people in Europe! Speaking of the United States, the Environmental Defense reports that there are 70% increased chances of developing cancer by inhaling the diesel exhausts present in the air pollution. Wouldn't you stop driving of you knew that you can be at a risk too? The reason why I am listing out these statistics is because I want to tell you all that air pollution is way too serious an issue than we presume it to be. And if we don't contribute in our own way to prevent air pollution, then we all may have to just sit and repent. So how to prevent air pollution? What can be done about it? All this will be discussed as this article proceeds further.

Tips on How to Help Prevent Air Pollution

Well, let us look at it this way. If you need to go to the store to pick up some grocery, and it is just a 10 minutes walk from your house, but you feel too lazy and decide to drive down. That 'small' decision of driving instead of walking just lead to more air pollution... and although it didn't matter to you, it did add to the rise in air pollution. On the other hand, if you make it a point of not taking your car out when it comes to going to a nearby place, don't you think it would obviously reduce the air pollution to some extent? What I am trying to say is that how every little step adds to air pollution, every little step would also contribute in reducing air pollution. Mentioned below are some more tips to prevent air pollution. Have a look...

More Cycling, Less Driving!
Not only is it a great way to become more fit, it also would contribute in a great way when it comes to reducing and preventing air pollution. The logic is very simple, less cars out on the road means less smoke coming out of the vehicle, which eventually means less air pollution. You can also walk down to nearby places, or you can go for a carpool. These small yet simple steps will definitely prevent the increase pace of pollution at a high rate.

Drive with these Tips
I mean no matter what we read or how much our conscious tells us, we can't stop driving completely! But then there are some simple tips that we can follow while driving a car, which can actually help a little when it comes to preventing air pollution. These would include steps like obeying the speed limit, replacing your car's air filter on time, accelerating gradually, keeping your tires inflated properly, servicing your vehicle on time, go for hybrid cars or cars that are designed to emit low pollution.

Avoid VOCs
VOC stands for 'Volatile Organic Compounds' and they are the gases that are emitted from certain materials, be it solid or liquids, which we use in our daily life. These materials include spray paints, pesticides, glues, permanent markers, copiers, printers, cleaning supplies and so on. Instead of going for materials that contain VOCs, go for products that contain are water based or have low levels of VOCs.

Don't Waste, Learn to Recycle
Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce air pollution as well. This is because to make new products, it takes energy. I mean we all are aware of the pollution caused by the factories that manufacture various products for our consumption. Recycling more means producing less and conserving more energy. Therefore the next time you throw away the newspapers or plastic bottles, think about it again!

Learn to Save Energy
In the last point, the whole point to recycle is to save energy so that less amount of pollution comes out from the factories and the waste materials. Simple steps like using less natural gas, gasoline and electricity can actually save a lot of fossil fuels. In order to save electricity, you can take small steps like using fans instead of air conditioners, turn off electrical appliances when you leave a room, replace your incandescent lights with fluorescent lights, use solar energy, use a microwave for heating up small meals than burning the gas stove, purchase energy saving appliances and so on.

Spread the Word
Spreading the word apart from doing what is needed is also important. Talk to your close ones about it. Set yourself as an example and show them how you are contributing your bit to prevent air pollution. It is important for everyone to realize that it is high time to take a conscious step to make things better before it is too late. We all know what is happening in Japan these days, people can't even breathe with all the air pollution due to the nuclear plant leakage. And the way things are going on now, the rise in the pollution levels in the air can make things very difficult for all of us. Therefore it is important to practice and preach!

As mentioned earlier, even small and minute things matter, when it comes to preventing air pollution. No matter where you live, air is that one element that will always be around you. So, if you think that staying at home will keep you safe no matter how polluted it is outside, you are under the wrong impression! As a matter of fact, if you go through the air pollution statistics, you would know that air pollution is the leading cause of many air borne diseases like bronchitis, asthma, non fatal heart attacks, and other respiratory conditions leading to premature deaths all across the globe. I hope this article on how to prevent air pollution proved to be of help in terms of 'the need to act' NOW!

Natural Causes of Air Pollution

Natural Causes of Air Pollution
Air pollution is a very real and potent threat that we face in our lives today, but many people are under the misconception that air pollution is only caused by man-made sources. Admittedly, man-made sources are the primary source of pollution in our atmosphere in the form of smoke, smog and other harmful materials, but there are several natural factors that lead to air pollution as well. 

Air pollution can be defined as the presence of any harmful material in the air and the atmosphere that can cause damage to human beings and other living organisms. These materials can cause their damage either by entering the respiratory system of these organisms or by attacking their outer skin layers externally. Moreover, some forms of air pollution also lead to damage of buildings, other man-made structures, rivers, and several other areas. 

What are the Natural Causes of Air Pollution

Forest Fires
A fire that occurs in a highly vegetation infested area through natural causes is known as a bush fire, and this is a very potent natural source of air pollution. There are several different causes that lead to forest fires, and the fact is that they are caused naturally without any human intervention. These fires spread very rapidly, and release pollutants like smoke and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Though carbon monoxide is present in living bodies in small amounts, it can be toxic in nature when sniffed in larger amounts. Forest fires also lead to unpredictable weather changes and cyclones, and all this leads to a severe loss of life in the long run. 

Volcanic Eruptions
A volcano is an open fissure on the surface of the earth from which lava and volcanic ash escapes on a regular basis. There are several active volcanoes that are found around the planet today, and along with the air pollution that they cause, they can also be a source of danger to life forms. Carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are the primary gases that are released during volcanic eruptions, and these lead to dire consequences to the earth's atmosphere and to all the life forms that reside here. Other gases like hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, carbon monoxide, halocarbons and some metal chlorides are also released into the atmosphere in smaller traces. The materials released also lead to acid rain in many parts, and the volcanic ash that follows disrupts air travel and many other activities. The recent eruptions of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull over Iceland in 2010 also led to several restrictions in air travel over Europe. 

Wind Erosion
Though dust particles and dirt do not cause toxic effects in the human body, they are capable of inducing many respiratory diseases in human beings. These dust particles move around in the atmosphere due to strong winds, especially in geographical areas where wind erosion is a common occurrence. This factor is not a very major contributor towards air pollution, but it does play a small role and is one of the most underestimated types of air pollution.

Methane Expulsion
Farm animals like cattle release methane into the atmosphere during the end stages of their digestive cycles. Methane gas affects the ozone layer in the atmosphere since it is a very potent greenhouse gas, and it is also highly inflammable when it combines with other elements in the air. Moreover, it can lead to severe asphyxiation if someone is trapped in a closed room with the presence of methane gas in the air. This is a factor that building construction sites also take into account, since the presence of methane in the airways of the building can lead to dire consequences.

Radon Expulsion
Nuclear elements like uranium are found inside the earths surface, and when these elements decompose they release a noble gas known as Radon into the atmosphere. This gas is highly radioactive in nature, and it can cause some serious health damage to people who breathe the air that contains it. Interestingly, after smoking, Radon intake is the second largest contributing factor to lung cancer in human beings, so all possible measures to prevent the spread of Radon must be taken. 

Other factors like the dispersal of large amounts of pollen from flowers and the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which get oxidized and transformed into aerosols from plants and trees also lead to air pollution which is not caused by man-made sources. As you can see, there are plenty of natural causes of air pollution that are out of our control as well. Most of these sources can be countered in certain ways, but if you are under the impression that air pollution is caused solely by man, then you are mistaken.

How to Reduce Smog

Reduce Smog
Basically, smog refers to a mixture of smoke - attributed to burning of fossil fuels in cars, factories, etc., and fog which forms a thick blanket near the surface of the Earth. As the smoke which comes in contact with fog in this case is most often attributed to pollution caused by cars, reducing the use of cars may seem to be the best method to do away with smog pollution. That being said, not using the car as we have been doing all this while is not at all a practical solution to this problem, and hence we need to opt for a combination of different ways to reduce smog levels in the surroundings, and its implications on our health and other aspects of our life.

Smog: Causes and Effects

As we mentioned earlier, smog is basically a type of air pollution - that can be attributed to the reaction of vehicle and industrial emissions in the atmosphere with sunlight. A thick blanket of smog can reduce the visibility on ground as well as in the air by a significant extent. The chemicals which contribute to formation of smog includes harmful chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, etc., which are known to result in adverse health conditions in humans. The ill-effects of smog can range from shortness of breath to much more severe respiratory problems. It is very harmful for small children, old aged people, as well as those individuals who suffer from lung and heart problems. At the same time, the chemicals that we mentioned above make natural fog heavier and darker, thus creating a blanket of smog which reduces visibility to less than 10 feet at times. It can bring the entire transport system to a standstill, and add the burden on the economy.

How to Reduce Smog Pollution?

As car pollution is the biggest culprit when it comes to smog formation, working on the same can be helpful to stop smog pollution. However we can't just stop using the car altogether, and thus a better option is to use the car efficiently. Planning your trips in advance and completing all your errands in one go instead of doing different things at different times can reduce the use of car and in turn the amount of pollution you cause. Ideally, you should walk or cycle to the superstore in your neighborhood, instead of using the car for such short trips. Experts suggest that proper maintenance of the car, turning the engine off when idling at the traffic light for more than 15 seconds, using good quality fuel, etc., can also help reduce pollution that eventually results in smog.

Opting for public transport twice a week can also help you reduce air pollution by a great extent. If that's not possible, you can talk to your colleagues and start a car pool wherein the members of car pool will take turns in ferrying each other to the workplace and back. Resorting to hybrid cars is also a good option, as these cars switch between internal combustion engine and electric motor, thus reducing the amount of pollution by a certain extent. All these measures won't just help you reduce smog formation, but also make sure that you stay healthy and help you save some of your hard-earned money which you would otherwise spend on fuel and medication.

There also exist other causes of air pollution which contribute to formation of smog. Though the amount of harmful emissions is low, even small home equipment which uses gasoline - such as your gas-powered lawn mower, tend to contribute to smog, and hence should be replaced with electrical products. As far as industrial emission contributing to smog formation is concerned, you can indirectly contribute your bit by not using the products that these industries produce, using them in a responsible manner or recycling/reusing them which will help in decreasing the need of producing these products, and - in turn, reduce the pollution caused by industrial emission.

As trivial as these methods of reducing smog may seem, they can work wonders when all of us start following them religiously. Going by the rate at which air pollution in increasing, the smog problem in major cities of the world is bound to worsen with time. That being said, there is no doubt about the fact that the implementation of these steps to reduce smog levels in the urban areas is the need of the hour. If we don't tackle the smog problem now, the severity of its implications on our health as well as economy will continue to increase.

Effects of Air Pollution on Animals

Effects of Air Pollution on Animals
Air is one of the principle constituents when it comes to the presence of life on Earth, and when the same gets polluted it invariably has to result in a series of adverse effects on all forms of life which are dependent on it. When we say all forms of life, it includes humans as well as plants and animals on the planet. As in case of humans, the effects of air pollution on animals and plants are also quite severe. In plants, the pollutants in air tend to block the stomata - i.e. the tiny pores in the leaves through which plants take in carbon dioxide, and hamper the process of photosynthesis. In case of animals - on the other hand, the effects are somewhat similar to those on human beings.

Air Pollution: An Overview

Air pollution refers to the introduction of some harmful gases and particulate matter in the Earth's atmosphere which in turn results in contamination of air that the various lifeforms require for various life processes. There exist natural causes of air pollution - such as volcanic eruptions, wildfires, etc. as well as human-induced causes such as vehicle emissions, industrial fumes, etc. Over the last few decades, human-induced air pollution has become a lot more severe and common as compared to its natural counterpart. The contaminants that are known to pollute the air include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide etc. all of which are known to be harmful for human beings and animals alike.

Air Pollution Effects on Animals

Along with humans, animals - ranging from tiny microbes to large mammals, are dependent on oxygen that they derive from the air. When contaminated air is inhaled for breathing oxygen, several harmful gases are also inhaled along with this lifesaving gas. These harmful gases are believed to affect animals in the same manner in which they affect humans. Experts also suggest that the particulate matter that the animals inhale over a prolonged period can get accumulated in their tissues and damage their organs in the long run. Other than inhaling the harmful contaminants directly, animals can also come in contact with these contaminants from the food that they eat and by absorption through their skin. Some studies do reveal that the effects of air pollution on animal species are much more severe than they are on us humans - as they are not well-equipped to protect themselves from this hazard as we are.

Acid Rain
While the effects of breathing in harmful gases and particulate matter on animals are similar to that on humans, animals are also vulnerable to these harmful gases indirectly. Acid rain - which is again attributed to air pollution, is one of the major threats for animals. When contaminants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are released in the atmosphere, they start ascending in the air and come in contact with rain bearing clouds. When these clouds start precipitating, the water droplets react with chemicals that are suspended in the atmosphere and result in acid rain. With a pH value of 5.5, acid rainwater alters the chemical properties of ponds and rivers, and result in habitat destruction for species which inhabit these water bodies. Similarly, acid rain also contaminates the vegetation and water on the planet, and harms animals which drink the contaminated water and feed on contaminated plants. There is no dearth of instances of habitat loss for freshwater biome species as a result of acid rain. In fact, several North American lakes have virtually become lifeless as a result of increasing instances of acid rain and acid fog which has - in turn, resulted in acidification of these freshwater sources.

Ozone Depletion and Global Warming
When greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are released in the atmosphere, they start depleting the ozone layer which blocks the harmful ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun. As the ozone layer starts depleting, the harmful radiation which enter the Earth's atmosphere harm the plants and animals on the planet. If experts are to be believed these harmful ultraviolet radiation can cause skin problems - such as cancer, in animals as well. At the same time, tropospheric ozone - which happens to be a greenhouse gas in itself, has the tendency to cause tissue damage and respiratory infections in animals. Not to forget, global warming - which happens to be one of the underlying factors for loss of habitat for numerous species, is also attributed to unabated release of pollutants like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere of the Earth.

As we mentioned earlier, the effects of air pollution on animals are considered to be much more severe than its effects on us humans, as we can at least protect ourselves from the hazards of the same. The rapid rate at which air pollution is occurring is not even giving the animals a chance to adapt to the changes in the environment. In the long term, these effects are likely to trigger extinction of species - one after another, and that will indirectly add to our woes considering that we along with all these animals - that are at the receiving end today, form the complex ecological network wherein all species are dependent on each other.

Smog Effects

Smog Effects
Smog is a mix of different kinds of pollutants that are air-borne and consist of chemicals that merge with the sunlight, thus forming secondary pollutants. These chemicals that cause such a reaction are volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The ozone layer as many of us are familiar with, protect the earth from harmful rays of the sun from filtering through. The ozone if present directly on plant, animal and human life, can prove to be quite disastrous. Health takes a back seat here, leading to respiratory problems in children and adults, worsening the problems of those who already have such conditions.

Smog occurs in places that usually experience high levels of traffic and toxic gas exposure, like big cities. Children who play outdoors frequently or who are constantly outside, are more prone to falling prey to the effects of smog. Even those who spend a lot of time doing things outside like jogging, construction work and taking walks around the area, pose as targets.

Causes of Smog

The different sources that join together to form smog, range from consumer products, exhaust from vehicles and hairspray, to plastics, power plants and chemical solvents. The most contributing factors when it comes to smog, are heavy vehicles and those meant for transportation. Depending on the temperature and weather conditions, smog tends to form more quickly.

Therefore, on a hot day at the peak of summer, smog is more abundant and highly evident since the heat makes it form much faster than it would on cold wintry days. If smog is caught within a city without winds to push it away, it can settle over a city and stay put for days, making it worse while the agents that cause smog add to what is already present. Other causes of smog besides vehicles are asphalt from road pavements, lawnmowers, diesel/gasoline running vehicles, generating stations that use coal, barbecues, factories, pesticides and solvents/cleaners/oil based paints.

Smog Effects on Health

When it comes to children, they can experience problems like coughing and wheezing from repeated exposure to smog. Children tend to breathe faster and take in more oxygen than adults, making it easier for more chemicals to enter their lungs. Kids can experience infections because of the immune system's inability to fend these off. The smog decreases their immunity's strength, making it hard to protect the body from oncoming infectious agents. It decreases one's lungs capacity, making you more tired. It can worsen problems like chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.

Adults experience the same problems of reduced immunity - leading one to experience breathing problems and falling ill repeatedly. Smog contains carcinogenic elements that can also lead to fibrosis and inflammation of the lungs, leading to damage due to morphological changes. Such detriment can lead to premature aging of one's lungs, since it brings down its function and ruins its elasticity. Those who suffer from heart problems, asthma and other respiratory illnesses are left open to the chance of worsening their conditions. Kids who don't have well-developed lungs like adults, can also suffer from long term damage to the lungs, suffering at an early age from ailments.

The effects of air pollution or what is also known as smog, can be quite destructive to us humans and can result in damaging man-made structures like buildings and monuments as well. The soot like appearance that is found on these structures is a sign of how smog has already eaten away at its facade.

The sulfur dioxide is corrosive in nature, and can even eat away at metal and stone resulting in damage made to statues and other buildings. Try practicing safe methods like wearing a mask before you step outside, and avoid staying outdoors for too long. Have a safe tomorrow.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
Right from environmental tobacco smoke to pesticides, the causes of indoor air pollution exist in plenty. Other than these sources of indoor air pollution - which introduce harmful particles in the air within your home, there also exist other factors which contribute to it. One of the most prominent example of the same is inadequate ventilation. We do take precautions against pollutants when we step out of the house, but we fail to notice that there exist some equally harmful pollutants within our homes. In fact, experts suggest that indoor air pollution is 10 times more of a threat as compared to outdoor air pollution. Before we move on to the details of indoor air pollution causes, let's go through some general facts about the same which highlight its severity.

Indoor Air Pollution: An Overview

Indoor air pollution is referred to contamination of indoor air as a result of introduction of various harmful chemicals and other such matter in the atmosphere. As we spend more time indoors - at home as well as at the workplace, we are more vulnerable to air pollution indoors as compared to the same outdoors. According to the global health risks - a comprehensive assessment of leading risks to global health by the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.7% of the total diseases in the world are attributed to indoor air pollutants. The health effects of indoor air pollution range from minor infections and allergies to severe problems such as acute lower respiratory infections and lung cancer. The statistical evidence compiled by the WHO further reveals that as many as 1.6 million people die as a result of ailments which is attributed to indoor air pollution.

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

When it comes to indoor air pollution causes, combustible substances - such as gas and coal, are considered to be the major culprits. The list of combustible substances which trigger pollution within your home doesn't just restrict to fuel sources though, but also includes activities such as smoking. One of the major pollutants when it comes to indoor air pollution is carbon monoxide which is formed as a result of incomplete combustion of carbon. In fact, carbon monoxide is one of the most common pollutant in rural areas wherein people still use traditional means of cooking. In urban areas, on the other hand, the most prominent pollutants happen to be asbestos, radon, etc. Even the fur of domestic animals is a possible pollutant within your home.

In fact, the dust that gets accumulated in your house over the course of time also contributes to this type of air pollution. When you try to dust your carpet or sofa after a long time, you see dust flying all over in the room. This dust is potent enough to trigger infections and allergic reactions in humans. It may come as a surprise for many, but the germs that come out of your body when you sneeze have the tendency to pollute the environment and trigger infectious ailments. At times, the emissions from outdoor air pollution sources can also travel with air and enter your home, thus polluting the environment indoors. Even pesticides that you use in the house act as pollutants as the fumes coming from the same escape into the environment.

How Inadequate Ventilation Contributes to Indoor Air Pollution?

As we mentioned earlier, inadequate ventilation adds to the intensity of indoor air pollution because dilution of pollutants becomes difficult as outdoor air cannot come inside and indoor polluted air cannot go outside. If an individual smokes cigarette indoors and outdoors, you will notice that the dilution of environmental tobacco smoke is much fast outdoors as compared to indoors, wherein the smoke continues to fill the room for quite sometime. The same applies to emissions from other air pollutants as well, though it may not be as obvious as the tobacco smoke which is accompanied by strong smell. While the practice of building air-tight structures to minimize energy loss has become quite popular over the last decade or two, the same has also contributed to indoor air pollution by hampering air ventilation. Other than release of pollutants and inadequate ventilation, climatic factors such as temperature and humidity also play a crucial role in determining the levels of pollution within your home.

Taking the severity of this issue into consideration, it becomes all the more important to prevent indoor air pollution, and to do that you will have to make it a point to attend to all these causes of the same. Simple measures like vacuum cleaning the home once in a while, making sure that the home is properly ventilated, not smoking within closed buildings, shifting from traditional means of cooking to modern means, etc., can help you limit the amount of pollutants within the building, if not get rid of them completely.

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Even though people spend 90 percent of their time indoors on an average, not many of them are aware of the fact that the air which they breathe indoors is 2-5 times polluted as compared to air outdoors. It may come as a surprise for many, but several sources of air pollution exist within your home itself. These sources of indoor air pollution range from construction material used to build your house to harmful emissions from burning of fuels. As we move on with this write-up, we will unravel more of such air pollution sources which you are likely to encounter in your home or office, but before we get into these details let's go through some general facts about the concept of indoor air pollution.

Indoor Air Pollution Facts

Indoor air pollution refers to degradation of indoor air quality (IAQ) - i.e. the quality of air within and around a building, as a result of introduction of contaminants in the air. With 2.7 percent of the diseases in the world attributed to it, indoor air pollution is not something that is to be taken lightly. More importantly, these health issues range from minor allergies and infections to life-threatening conditions such as lung cancer which are known to cause millions of death across the world every year. Ignorance about the causes of indoor air pollution has blown the issue out of proportion, and that's something which is not quite a good news for us.

Indoor Air Pollution Sources

As we mentioned earlier, the sources of air pollution which are found indoors range from building material to harmful emissions from burning of fuels. While the inclusion of dust as a pollutant both indoors and outdoors is obvious, the fact that this list of indoor pollutant sources includes household supplies - such as paints and cosmetics, and office supplies - such as printers and permanent markers, is bound to come as a surprise for most of the people out there. Given below are the details of primary sources of indoor air pollution that you need to be aware of.
  • Tobacco products - such as cigarettes and cigars, which give out environmental tobacco smoke.
  • Plant pollen attributed to flowering plants in the vicinity which is brought inside by wind.
  • Animal dander attributed to pet animals in your home as well as animals outside.
  • Mold colonies which thrive in humid corners of your house.
  • Building material which is rich in radon - a radioactive gas that is considered carcinogenic to humans.
  • Lead paint which is rich source of lead - a heavy toxic metallic element known to trigger a toxic health condition referred to as lead poisoning.
  • Traditional methods of cooking that rely on fossil fuels which emit carbon monoxide.
  • Defective central heating furnaces which are also known to emit carbon monoxide.
  • Sulfur containing fuels - such as kerosene, which emit sulfur dioxide.
  • Asbestos-containing material which was widely used in construction of homes earlier.
  • Household supplies such as paint, pesticides, varnishes, cosmetic, cleaning supplies etc., which are rich in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Office supplies such as copiers, printers, correction ink, permanent markers, etc., which are rich in VOCs.
  • Air ionizers and other such electronic devices which are known to produce ozone along with ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun.
  • Automobile exhaust emissions, which are brought inside the house by wind.
  • And lastly, humans which give out carbon dioxide as a by-product of the metabolic activity.
While all these sources are known to cause air pollution indoors, one has to also take into consideration the role that inadequate ventilation has to play in intensifying this pollution. In fact, inadequate ventilation is the major culprit when it comes to indoor air pollution as it doesn't allow the polluted air within the house to go outdoors, or the fresh air outside to come indoors, so that the pollutants inside are diluted.

If you are to keep indoor air pollution - and the numerous health hazards associated with it, at bay, these are the sources that you need to do away with. Some simple measures of preventing indoor air pollution include keeping your home free of dust using vacuum cleaner, reducing the use of aerosol sprays, replacing traditional cooking methods with modern ones, etc. Even though they are simple, these preventive measures can make sure that you are not threatened by various health problems attributed to indoor air pollution, and hence, it's worth taking these efforts.

Indoor Air Pollution Solutions

Indoor Air Pollution Solutions
When we talk about air pollution, we focus all our attention on the level of pollutants present in the atmosphere, neglecting the threat indoor air pollution poses to us. Awareness about air pollution has helped in controlling the emissions from various factories and industries. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its latest report on air pollution statistics has pointed out that the toxic levels have decreased considerably over the past few years. There is still a long way to go before we start rejoicing and it will take a sustained effort from all of us to realize the goal of pollution-free air. Although, there is considerable awareness about air pollution, what is rather surprising is that most of us are unaware about the threat indoor air pollution poses to us. Indoor air pollution is the contamination of air inside or around our homes and it has been listed as one of the five risk factors for public health. If it doesn't set alarm bells ringing consider these facts -
  • Experts suggest that indoor air pollution is a much bigger threat than outdoor air pollution as we spend most of our time inside our homes and offices, and this exposes us to contaminated air for prolonged periods.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) in its annual report stated that close to around 3% of all diseases are caused due to indoor air pollution.
  • EPA in its survey has found out that 60% of the homes in United States pose a threat to its inhabitants including some life-threatening diseases.
These facts would have given you an idea on the danger that indoor air pollution poses to all of us. The good news is that there are numerous ways in which you can ensure that you and your loved ones are breathing in safe, pollution-free air. We will help you with some indoor air pollution solutions, but before that it is important that we first have a bit of an idea about the causes of indoor air pollution.

Solutions to Indoor Air Pollution

The solution to the problem of indoor air pollution lies in its causes. One of the major causes of indoor air pollution is poor ventilation. It causes polluted air to stay inside for long durations, which when inhaled can expose a person to a risk of developing various respiratory diseases. Other sources of pollution are harmful pollutants like formaldehyde, asbestos and poly-chlorinated biphenyl (PCB). All these chemicals are found in household products that you might have used or may use in near future. Although, asbestos and PCB have been banned from extensive use, these usually found their way inside your home through electrical and telephone cables, air conditioning systems, building material and furniture. Some other causes of indoor air pollution are radon, cigarettes and pesticides.

To reduce the level of pollutants inside your homes, you can seal all the sources of chemicals like asbestos and PBC. Another way to control the source of the pollutants is to adjust the place of appliances that cause indoor pollution. As mentioned before, half of the indoor air pollution is caused by poor ventilation. Relying on automatic conditioning systems all the time isn't a good idea and you should open doors and windows to let fresh air enter your home and replace contaminated air. Using exhaust fans can also help a great deal in proper ventilation. Air cleaners can be of good help in the fight against indoor air pollution. There is a wide range of air cleaners available in the market and before choosing one you should do a bit of research. Air cleaners purify the air inside a building by filtering the mold spores, pollen, dander, etc. Some simple things like smoking outside your home, cleaning your home on a regular basis and keeping your pets outside your living rooms can help in reducing the level of indoor air pollution. Awareness about indoor air pollution can go a long way in ensuring that the threat of indoor air pollution is curbed. We hope that the indoor air pollution solutions mentioned above will give you some idea about the steps you can take to make your home a better place to live.

Coral Reef Animals


Coral Reef Animals
Coral reef animals are the ones that inhabit coral reefs. Read ahead to know more about these animals, and their lives.

Coral reefs play an important role in marine biology. They are the natural habitat for a large number of coral reef animals and plants, that form an inherent part of our ecosystem. Coral reefs are found in the deepest portions of the seas and oceans. Let us read about some coral reef facts that revolve around coral reef plants and animals. Read on...

What are Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are formed in the depths of large saline water bodies, that is, seas and oceans. But, how are coral reefs formed? They are formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate in water. The importance of coral reefs is such, that, even though there are not many nutrients present in and around them, they still are the source of food and nutrition for many aquatic flora and fauna, especially coral reef animals and plants.

Coral Reef Animals List

Coral reef information, has been widely studied and explored. One facet of these is the coral reef animals. Given below are names of some of the species that inhabit the coral reefs. Have a read...

Crustaceans






As the name suggests, crustaceans are those form of marine animals, that have a crust for their body. These animals have a thick exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is molted by them as they grow. This means, that they shed their initial crust, and develop a new one as they grow and mature. The members of the crustaceans family which reside in the coral reefs are,
Shrimp
Lobsters
Crabs
Barnacles
Copepods
Isopods
Amphipods
Mysids
Ostracods
Mollusks






Mollusks are part of the invertebrates phylum. Most of them are marine animals, and comprise about 15-18% of the marine biology, as far as animals are concerned. They have a cavity in their body which facilitates breathing and excretion. The animals which fall under this category are,
Clams
Oysters
Cephalopods: Squid, Octopus, Nautilus, Cuttlefish, etc.
Sea Anemones






Sea anemones are predaceous animals that inhabit the coral reefs. They survive on small fish and other small marine animals. They have a circular disc, which serves as the oral opening. This opening is surrounded by tentacles, and at the bottom of the body, is a foot like structure, which has an adherent substance, which facilitates it to move around, stop and eat. They are most commonly seen with clownfish. The clownfish act as a protection from other sea predators, who try to eat the sea anemones.

Hard and Soft Corals






Corals, are the major component of the coral reef. But that's quite obvious, isn't it? The coral that inhabit coral reefs can be classified into soft corals, and hard corals. Soft corals, do not form a reef construction. Hard corals, on the other hand, due to the deposition of limestone, are characterized by the formation of the reef structure at the base of the ocean.

Soft Corals Hard Corals
Sea Fingers
Sea Whips
Red Mushroom Coral
Elkhorn Coral
Brain Coral
Tubastrea Cup Coral

Other Coral Reef Animals






Other coral reef animals that are seen in the vicinity of large and small reefs are mentioned below. They depend on the corals for their food, nutrients and often times, for their shelter too. Given below is a list of other coral reef animals. Here are some examples of other coral reef animals.


Sea Urchins
Jellyfish
Turtles
Sea Snakes
Sea Birds
Sponges
Fungi
Sea Worms
Coral reef animals adaptations include the thick exoskeleton, symbiosis with other creatures (like the sea anemones and the clownfish), tentacles to grab hard to reach food particles, stinging, etc. The threats to coral reefs are growing day by day, due to pollution, global warming, etc. Care must be taken to preserve this important component of our ecosystem.

How to Detect Methane Gas

Gas
Back in the 20th century, coal miners came up with a novice method of detecting the presence of methane gas in coal mines - which was causing a great deal of trouble for them, using canary birds. (Canary is a small passerine bird which derives its name from the fact that it is native to the Canary Islands where it is found in abundance.) When entering the coal mines, these miners began to take a canary bird along with them. When there was a slight spike in the amount of methane in the atmosphere, this bird - being highly sensitive to methane gas, used to choke and die. The death of this bird would act as a warning signal for these miners, and they would take the necessary precautions to save themselves from the possible threats that this gas posed.

While the problems with methane concentration in the atmosphere still exist, you need not resort to canaries to save your lives now. There exist quite a few simple methods and some amazing devices which can help you detect the presence of this gas in your surroundings. Before we get into the details on how to detect the presence of methane in the atmosphere, let's try to understand why it is important to do so.

Why is Methane Gas Harmful?

Methane is known to for its tendency to explode as a result of which the presence of this gas in closed environment puts you at a constant threat of the same. Methane is known to cause explosions in coal mines - wherein the gas which is trapped beneath the Earth's crust is released as a result of mining. Methane causes fire in landfills - wherein it is produced by anaerobic bacteria in a process known as methanogenesis. Coming to our homes, methane forms an important constituent of the natural gas which we use for cooking. At the same time, the chances of naturally occurring methane slipping into your well and methane leaking from the sewer lines (see sewer gas smell in house) also increases your likelihood of coming in contact with it.

While the presence of methane gas in coal mines or at landfills may not put you at a direct threat of this gas, methane gas exposure within the closed walls of your home does - especially because of its tendency to replace oxygen in the atmosphere. Our lungs are programmed to function normally when the atmospheric concentration of oxygen is 21 percent, but when the same comes down - as a result of the presence of methane in the surroundings, it can trigger asphyxiation i.e. the condition of being deprived of oxygen, which can even result in death.

How to Detect Methane Gas?

As methane is odorless and colorless in nature, detecting it can be a bit difficult - and that makes its presence in your surroundings all the more dangerous. Resorting to commercially available methane gas detectors is by far the best method of detecting the presence of this gas around you. Most of these detectors are portable, which means you can easily carry them around in your kitchen or near the sewer lines to detect the presence of methane. You can also resort to fixed gas detectors for detection of methane leaks. However, you need to make sure that you install the same at a considerable height - preferably close to the ceiling, as methane being lighter than air tends to ascend and escape from the atmosphere. As far as methane gas detectors cost in concerned, the lower end models will cost you somewhere around $50, while the higher end models will cost you somewhere around $200 with ease.

If you suspect methane concentration in your well, you can resort to the bottle test to confirm the same. You just need to fill a bottle with this well water till half way, and close it tightly with the cap. After sometime, you just have open the cap and hold a burning match stick to the mouth of this bottle. If your suspicion is right, you will see a rush of flame when you take the match stick close to the mouth of this bottle. As methane escapes from water with ease, a contaminated well does put you at the risk of methane gas exposure. As methane is odorless, a small amount of methanethiol is added to the cooking gas you use in order to help you detect leakage of the same. Methanethiol - though colorless, has a strong smell which resembles the smell of a rotten cabbage or rotten egg. If there is any leakage of cooking gas, the foul smell of methanethiol will make it easier for you to detect the same.

Other than resorting to the aforementioned measures of detecting methane gas leaks, being on a lookout for methane gas exposure symptoms can also be of some help. Some of the most obvious symptoms of such exposure include difficulty in breathing, suffocation, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision and increased heart rate. Taking a note of the age-old adage - 'prevention is better than cure, you can go ahead and take the precautionary measures to make sure that the methane levels in your surroundings never spike to an extent that they harm you.

Ground-Level Ozone Pollution

Ground-Level Ozone Pollution                                  
Ground-level ozone is a combination of high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitric oxides (NOx), created by a chemical reaction in the presence of sunlight. VOCs are found in products such as cosmetics, paints, fuels, and the like, some of which can be dangerously toxic. These compounds are also continuously being released by trees in small amounts. On the other hand, NOx are gases released from vehicles of all kinds, and other materials that utilize fuel for their functioning, such as lawn mowers, manufacturing units, etc. The creation of ozone from a reaction of these gaseous compounds is called ground-level or 'bad' ozone. The good ozone (or the ozone layer) is what is found above the earth's surface, that protects us from UV radiation. This bad ozone is what is found in the troposphere, that is closer to the earth's surface, and is known to be harmful for human beings and other life forms on the earth, if inhaled in excessive amounts. Here, we will discuss the implications of ground-level ozone pollution, and what we can do to contain these rising levels.

Consequences of Ground-Level Ozone Pollution

Ground-level ozone pollution is most common in urban areas due to the kind of lifestyle that is led by their residents. Heavy dependence on various modes of transport, along with the use of high-end products that contain huge concentrations of VOCs, contributes to this condition. Studies have shown that ground-level ozone pollution can have long-term and dangerous health effects on human beings and other life forms. These effects have been enlisted below.

➝ Continuous exposure to ground-level ozone can slowly begin to irritate your respiratory system, and cause conditions such as tightness of the chest and cough. The respiratory system then becomes weaker and more prone to other respiratory diseases.

➝ Those who already suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma, may find that these worsen over time due to over exposure to pollutants such as ground-level ozone. This is because ground-level ozone also consists of other allergens, dust particles and pollen, all of which are known to aggravate asthma, and can even induce allergies. 

➝ The lung functioning is weakened over time, causing inflammation of the lungs. When exposure to this pollutant continues, it can worsen the lung condition, lead to the development of chronic lung diseases, and even lead to permanent damage of the lungs. 

➝ Such effects occur only in the long term, not immediately. For instance, even conditions such as asthma may flare up days after continued exposure to ground-level ozone. 

While these were the human health effects of ground-level pollution, there are also environmental effects of this kind of pollution. We're all aware of the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming. Ground-level ozone pollution only contributes to this further, enhancing the pattern and speed of climate change, and will contribute to some very harmful global conditions such as rapid decline of trees and plants (because of their inability to absorb the large amounts of carbon dioxide in the environment), if not checked immediately.

How We Can Reduce the Effects of Ground-Level Ozone Pollution

Experts all over the world suggest that unless measures are taken at a global level, no major changes in the condition of the environment or pollution levels will be visible. We, however, may contribute in a small way in reducing ground-level ozone pollution and its long-term effects. Though it may not make a large-scale change, it can definitely mark the beginning of a new lifestyle and thought process. So here are a few ways in which you can contribute to the reduction of ground-level ozone pollution. 

➝ Start by first protecting yourself, by avoiding stepping out on days when air pollution levels are high. These levels can be determined by the excessive heat outside, as well as by checking the levels established on local health department websites. Only if you are safe, will you be able to contribute to the necessary change. 

➝ Become proactive and promote the use of public transport rather than personal vehicles. Implement carpools, so that lesser number of vehicles are used. Suggest other methods of transport such as walking and cycling. Adopting these measures even once a week will make a huge difference to the pollution levels in the long term. 

➝ Try and conserve as much energy as you can. For instance, at home, don't use lights unless really needed, and try drying your clothes in natural sunlight instead of the dryer. Do the dishes instead of using the dishwasher. Use an electric lawn mower or use manual methods of mowing your lawn (this also contributes to a great deal of exercise which is healthy for you).

➝ Begin a tree plantation drive in your locality. Even if not trees, contribute by growing more plants in your area, so that they may help in some way to reduce local pollution levels. 

Finally, spread awareness and lead by example, so that people around you also adopt these measures. Ground-level ozone pollution is only likely to increase unless preventive measures such as the ones mentioned above are adopted. Be proactive and be the difference you wish to see.A form of air pollution, ground-level ozone pollution can only have devastating effects on human life forms and the environment, if not checked. What are these effects and what can we do to reverse them? Find out here.

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