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Air Pollution

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Air pollution reflects the bad quality of the air. The pollution of polluted particles in the air is measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI). Any chemical, biological or physical change that contaminates the air leads to air pollution. Healthy air has an optimum concentration of atmospheric gases if that increase or decreases that leads to air pollution which indirectly causes global warming.

What is Air Pollution?

The increase in the concentration of pollutants can either be a primary or secondary pollutant in the air which leads to harmful effects on the ecosystem known as air pollution.

Change in the composition of air in a physical, chemical, or biological way leads to change in the property of air, and this is known as Air Pollution. Toxic gases, dust, and smoke in the air have a harmful impact on living organisms (plants, animals, and even humans). As a result of this imbalance in the gaseous composition, the earth’s temperature has risen. This is referred to as Global warming.

Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are all major pollutants. According to WHO data, almost all of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains significant levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries bearing the brunt of the burden. Globally, air quality is inextricably tied to the earth’s climate and ecosystems.

What is Air Pollutant?

Pollutants are those substances that show harmful effects on the health of living organisms or humans and also affect the ecosystem. If the pollutants are concentrated in the ecosystem of air then those particles are known as Air Pollutants and they cause air pollution. Pollutants can be classified into different types: on basis of origin and working mechanism.

Also Read: Water Pollution

Air Pollution


Types of Air Pollutants

On the basis of Origin

  1. Man-Made Pollutants: The pollutants are formed because of human activity. For example air pollution because of vehicles.
  2. Natural Pollutants: The pollutant formed because of the natural process. Example volcanic eruption. 

On basis of the Working Mechanism

  1. Primary Pollutants: Primary pollutants directly contribute to air pollution. They are formed by a volcanic eruption or Carbon Monoxide (CO) from automobiles, Sulfur Dioxide from some factories.
  2. Secondary Pollutants: They are formed as a result of the interaction and mixing of primary contaminants. Smog is a secondary pollutant formed when smoke and fog combine. They formed the compounds which directly react and cause air pollution or they themselves cause air pollution.

Hazardous Air Pollutants

A number of air contaminants are detrimental to one’s health and, in small concentrations, can be fatal. The EPA classifies benzene as a carcinogen, and it can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term, as well as blood issues in the long term. Dioxins, which are more commonly found in food but are also present in trace amounts in the air, can have a short-term effect on the liver and impair the immunological, neurological, and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive functions. Mercury is harmful to our central nervous system. Lead in high concentrations can harm children’s brains and kidneys.

Causes of Air Pollution

Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles, as well as some gases suspended in the air. Automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles can emit these particles and fumes. Aerosols are particles that are both solid and liquid that are suspended in our atmosphere. When solid and liquid particles, known as aerosols, and certain gases wind up in our atmosphere, they cause air pollution. Because these particles and gases can be damaging to the environment and our health, it is vital to keep track of them.

Many aerosols reach the atmosphere when humans burn fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum, as well as wood. These particles can be found in a wide range of environments, including automotive exhaust, industry, and even wildfires. Some particles and gases are directly discharged from these sources, while others are generated as a result of chemical interactions in the air. Ozone is a major contributor to air pollution in cities.

Ozone is beneficial in our atmosphere at high elevations. It aids in the blocking of harmful solar rays. When ozone is closer to the earth, though, it can be exceedingly damaging to our health. Ground-level ozone is created when sunlight mixes with certain chemicals emitted by sources of burning fossil fuels, such as factories or car exhaust. Smog is generated when airborne particles react with ozone. Smog is a type of air pollution that appears as hazy fog and impairs visibility. All the causes can be listed as follows-

Burning of Fossil Fuels

Toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide are released into the atmosphere by fossil fuels. Sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum for energy in power plants, and other industrial combustibles are burned.

Increase usage of Vehicles

The increased usage of automobiles contributes to the release of hazardous gases.

Agricultural Activities

Various processes occur during agricultural activities, such as ammonia emissions and excessive use of insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In agricultural methods, insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers have all become more common.

Emissions from Factories

Manufacturing plants generate considerable amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing air quality.


Mining operations increase the discharge of toxic chemicals. Dust and chemicals are thrown into the air throughout the process, resulting in significant air pollution.

Domestic Activities

Domestic sources of pollution include the use of chemical paints and excessive usage of air conditioners. Hazardous chemicals are released into the air by household cleaning products and painting supplies, damaging the environment.

Effects of Air Pollution

Harmful effect on the ecosystem because of air pollution. As the concentration of harmful gases increases in the atmosphere. Due to this, some adverse effects are seen on organisms. Some of these effects are mentioned below:

Human Disease

Effects of Air Pollution


Humans have developed a multitude of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments as a result of air pollution. Lung cancer is becoming increasingly common. Pneumonia and asthma are more common among children who live in polluted areas.

Global Warming

The gaseous composition of the air has become unbalanced as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the temperature of the Earth has risen. The rise in the Earth’s temperature is referred to as global warming. Glaciers melted as a result, and sea levels rose.

Acid Rain

The combustion of fossil fuels emits hazardous chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides into the environment. Acid rain occurs when water droplets react with contaminants and become acidic, harming human, animal, and plant life.

Ozone Layer Depletion

The principal contributors to ozone layer depletion are chlorofluorocarbons, halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Because the ozone barrier is decreasing, people are not protected from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays, which cause skin ailments and eye difficulties.

Effects on Living Organisms

Animals and aquatic life are affected by rising air pollution, prompting them to stray and migrate in search of food. As a result, many animals are on the verge of extinction. Animals, sometimes known as wildlife, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution in the air. Acid rain, heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and other harmful compounds are all examples of pollution issues.

Prevention of Air Pollution 

To control air pollution, we adopt some preventive measures, such as are

Avoid using Automobiles

  • Usage of public transport should increase instead of public vehicles for the commute. It will also help in pollution control.
  • Using bicycles for the shorter route, instead of using bikes and other automobiles.
  • Automobiles can be replaced by electric vehicles.

Energy Conservation

  • A huge amount of fossil fuels are used to generate electricity. So on an individual level start saving electricity.
  • Switch to clean power sources i.e., solar, and wind power to generate electricity.
  • The use of CFLs also helps to prevent air pollution.

FAQs on Air Pollution

Question 1: What are the primary sources of air pollution?


Solid and liquid particles, as well as certain gases suspended in the air, contribute to air pollution. Automobile and truck emissions, factories, dust, pollen, mould spores, volcanoes, and wildfires all contain these particles and gases.

Question 2: What are the major causes of pollution? How does it affect humans?


The major cause of air pollution is burning fossil fuels in large amounts, which increases air pollution by secreting harmful gases in the environment. High levels of air pollution can cause heart attacks, wheezing, coughing, and breathing issues.

Question 3: Why should we try to reduce air pollution?


Airborne pollutants must be reduced for the sake of human health and the environment. Human health, particularly the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, is endangered by poor air quality.

Question 4: Who are the people who are harmed by air pollution?


The elderly, children with uncontrolled asthma, and the poor are the groups most harmed by air pollution. More health impacts may occur in vulnerable populations, which already have higher incidences of heart and lung disease.

Question 5: Explain how air pollution causes Global Warming.


As the harmful gases increase in the environment they cause air pollution. Greenhouse gases stimulate in the environment which increases the temperature of the earth and leads to Global Warming.

Question 6: Deforestation is the main cause of Air Pollution. Explain?


Plants utilize CO2 from the environment and release O2 via a process known as photosynthesis. Due to deforestation the amount of CO2 increase in the environment and decrease the amount of O2 which cause air pollution.

Last Updated : 23 Dec, 2022
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