Effects of Air Pollution

Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution refers to the presence of chemical, biological and particulate matter and pollutants in the atmosphere around the living spaces. When inhaled, the effects of air pollution on the human biological system takes a toll on quality of life, with the onslaught of a number of respiratory tract disorders...

Air Pollution:

Air pollution is a condition triggered by the presence of air-borne pollutants that affect the quality of air we inhale. These pollutants could either be the result of chemical emissions or the particulate material from biological waste. The condition has reached alarming proportion in the modern world, with a large-scale industrialization and vehicle-emissions being the primary culprits. The pollutants that are air borne cause a lot of harm to humans and animals, other than permanent damage to the natural environment.

Air Pollution Facts:
Air borne pollutants can either be solid particles, or even liquids and gases; natural or man-made.

Primary air pollutants are those that are directly emitted via some processes, like the ash from volcanoes or the carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from vehicles and factories, respectively.

Secondary air pollutants are the result of the reactions or interactions of the primary pollutants. Example: photochemical smog.

Sulfur oxides from volcanic eruptions and industrial processes oxidize in the presence of nitrogen dioxide to form acid rain.

Carbon monoxide, the emission from combustion of fuels like wood and coal, is a very poisonous gas.

Particulate matter can be both, natural as well as man-made. This pollutant originates within dust storms, volcanoes, forest fires or wildfires and sea sprays. Human activities contribute to nearly 10% of the aerosols in the atmosphere.

Ammonia is a gas emitted via agricultural processes. It is both hazardous as well as caustic.

Sources of air pollution are many and commonly include anthropogenic sources or those that result from human activity and natural sources like dust, methane, radioactive decay and volcanic ash particulates.

Lack of proper ventilation causes the radon emission from the earth to be trapped indoors, within houses and offices. This gas is carcinogen and has been linked to the development of numerous forms of cancer. The radon gas is also emitted from building materials and extensive carpeting. Lethal lead paint easily degenerates into dust and is inhaled.

The use of air fresheners, pesticides and chemical sprays also put the people in the immediate environment at risk of developing respiratory tract disorders, poisoning and fatalities.

Toxic asbestos fibers, dust and fumes cause Mesothelioma, a cancer that eats into the mesothelium, a delicate tissue that engulfs and protects important organs such as the heart and the lungs.

While pets shed dander into the atmosphere, humans produce dust from dead skin flakes and the decomposition of hair.
Effects of Air Pollution on Humans:

The effects of air pollution on humans are fatal and life-threatening. WHO statistics report that over 2 million people succumb to the fatalities attributed to air pollution. Consistent exposure to the pollutants leads to the development of:
Cardiopulmonary disease
Premature mortality
Heart attack
Difficulty in breathing
Wheezing and coughing
Acute vascular dysfunction
Thrombus formation
Cystic fibrosis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic bronchitis
There are a number of ways, by which these emissions could be controlled. Particulate control is possible with the use of mechanical collectors, electrostatic precipitators, bag-houses and scrubbers like the Baffle, Cyclonic, Ejector venturi and Mechanical scrubbers. Nitrogen dioxide control is possible with the help of low consumption burners and scrubbers, selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction and even catalytic converters. Sulfur dioxide or acid gas can be effectively controlled with dedicated use of wet and dry scrubbers and the latest introduction of flue gas desulfurization.

The world's most polluted cities include Australia, America, the UK, China and India as forerunners. The greenhouse effect is a life-threatening global phenomenon that is the creation of air pollutants. This phenomenon is the result of the trapped greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere. Accumulation of carbon dioxide gas, methane, nitrogen oxides, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons have brought on a major climate change, increased acidity of ocean waters and major modifications in marine ecosystems.

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