Effects, Causes, and Solutions to Air Pollution
It is quite common to see smog suspended in the air of many developing and developed
cities of the world these days and as citizens, we need to understand the causes and effect
of this pollution for the purpose of contributing to a lasting solution.
Pollutants come from a wide range of sources and many times, they are not visible to the eye.
The causes of air pollution
Carbon Dioxide (CO2), is the main pollutant. It is also referred to as the greenhouse gas. All living things, including humans, animals, and trees emit CO2, especially through breathing.
In the past 150 years, non-living things, including automobiles, and burning of fossil fuel has contributed to the air pollution through the emission of Carbon Monoxide (CO), causing the most drastic effects ever known in human history.
In addition to Carbon dioxide, there are several other greenhouse gases, considered
to be major causes of air pollution. Methane is one of such air pollutants, and it is emitted
from the swamps and the gases released from livestock.
Chloro-Fluro-carbons are some other popular air pollutants that emanate from substances as refrigerants used in refrigerators. Aerosol propellants are also common air pollutants that have been banned recently because of their rapid depletion of the Earth’s protective layer known as the “Ozone layer”.
Sulfur dioxide is another major air pollutant that is found in smog. Sulfur dioxide can
mix with rain to cause “Acid rain”. Sulfur dioxide is also released into the air when there is a volcanic eruption. The substance can filter rays from the sun, causing the cooling of the
atmosphere and ground level. Thousands of years back, volcanoes were the main sources
of air pollution, with the release of Sulphur dioxide, today, human activities are the main
reason for air pollution.
The effect of air pollution
The effects of air pollution cannot be over-emphasized. Air pollution has become the leading cause of respiratory problems worldwide. Some of the diseases caused by air pollution are;
Asthmatic attacks, Lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),
Leukemia, Pneumonia, Immune system defects and birth defects, Cardiovascular disorders,
and in some cases, premature deaths. Air pollution can cause difficulty in bringing,
especially in cities with a high concentration of fog.
According to the analysis of air pollution, more than 1.5 million deaths are recorded each year due to exposure to dangerously high pollutants in the air. In the year 2016 alone, exposure to ambient air pollution was responsible for over 7.5% death.
Perhaps the major effect of air pollution is the increase in global warming. Air pollution has been linked directly to the weakening of the Ozone layer, which is the earth’s protective layer against the damaging effects of the sun. This has caused global warming, especially of the ice glaciers – this situation has caused a tremendous increase in the sea
level, which is responsible for massive flooding in many parts of the world.
The Sulphur dioxide that causes acid rain can have adverse effects on crops and sea
animals. Acid rain can lead to stunted growth or plants dying off. Acid rain has also been
linked to the mysterious death of millions of sea animals in the last few decades.
Solutions to air pollution
Industrialized countries are working towards the reduction of their carbon and Sulphur
dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The 2015 Paris deal on Global warming has
mandated developed countries to work towards reducing global warming by less than 2
degrees Celsius, each year.
Though the United States has pulled out of this deal, other developed countries that are responsible for most air pollution, including China and most countries in Europe have remained committed to the deal.
Driving and flying less, have been identified as some of the most personal efforts that
can be put into reducing air pollution. Generally, anything that burns fossil fuel will eventually cause air pollution.
Since most automobiles such as cars, trains, and airplanes still rely on fossil gas to operate, it can be difficult to stop air pollution. When you drive or fly less, you will reduce your carbon footprint, which means there will be less burning of fossil fuel that can cause air pollution.
Today, there has been an increase in the number of electric and electronically
powered automobiles all around the world, this has led to less reliance on gas from fossil
fuel. Though this progress is slow, the fact that many countries rely on income from the sale of oil and gas still makes combating air pollution, a difficult task.
Recycling and conservation have also been identified as a suitable solution to air
pollution. Instead of burning every item thrown into the garbage, many of them can be
recycled or even donated to charity, especially to those who can still use them. Avoiding
cutting down trees is another solution towards reducing air pollution.
Cutting of trees usually trigger the release of greenhouse houses into the atmosphere, it will also create a vacuum on the land because there will be no shade for the smaller plants to grow. It is also important to curb habits such as smoking, to reduce the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
The planting of new trees and resuscitation of the green areas must also be
encouraged in order to fight air pollution. Planting of new trees will create a stronger barrier against some of the effects of air pollution thus ensuring that plants under the cover of tree canopies can survive.
While under-developed countries still see the developed countries in Asia and the Western
the world as the main culprit of air pollution, the scourge can only be fought through a collective decision. Though, developed countries have higher industries and more carbon emissions, under-developed and developing countries on the other hand, are popular for the cutting down of trees for economic gains without planting new trees to replace the fallen ones. It is therefore important to educate the young and older people around the world on the devastating effects of air pollution especially on all living things on the planet.