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What is Air Pollution? Definition, Types, Causes, Prevention

  • Last Updated : 01 Sep, 2021

The negative changes that are taking place in our environment and how they are affecting our lives. Pollutants are substances that contaminate the air and water. Natural sources of pollution include smoke and dust from forest fires and volcanic eruptions. Man-made pollution includes power plant and automotive emissions, as well as the burning of firewood. The principal air pollutants include carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, methane, and Sulphur dioxide. Global warming is caused by rising carbon dioxide levels.

What is Pollution?

Pollution in the environment can be characterised as unfavourable changes in the environment. Animals, plants, and other physical and biological components of the ecosystem are all negatively affected by these changes.

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Pollutants might be in the form of a gas, a solid, or a liquid. When the concentration of a material exceeds its natural values, it is classified as pollution. This increase in the substance’s concentration might also be induced by natural or human activity.



Other types of pollution exist in addition to air and water pollution. The following are the various types of pollution:

  • Light pollution
  • Sound pollution
  • Soil pollution

Air Pollution

The presence of an excessive amount of dangerous elements in the earth’s atmosphere is referred to as air pollution. Carbon monoxide, ammonia, CFCs, methane, and other gases are the principal sources of air pollution. Air pollution is described as a change in the quality of air as measured by chemical, physical, or biological pollutants in the atmosphere. It is the undesired presence of pollutants or an increase in the concentration of certain atmospheric elements.

Types of Air Pollution-

Human-made sources, also known as artificial sources and natural sources, are the primary sources of air pollution.

  1. Human-Made Sources: The combustion of some fuels is the primary source of air pollution that is caused artificially. The majority of industrial sources burn fuel using heating devices, releasing waste into the atmosphere. Archaic biomass burning is the leading cause of air pollution in underdeveloped countries. Free sources of man-made sources include water transportation, autos, and planes. The pollution level rises as a result of the fuels emitted by such vessels. Hairspray, aerosol, paint, varnish, and other solvent vapours also contribute to an unpleasant atmosphere. Military resources such as nuclear weapons, germ warfare, toxic gases, and rocketry are also included on this list.
  2. Natural Sources: Chemicals such as chlorine, Sulphur, and ash emitted from volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and methane combustion due to animal digestion, such as cattle, are examples of natural sources.

Some harmful effects of Air Pollution are:

  1. Endangers animal wellbeing as well as the health of plants and flora.
  2. As a result, newborn babies are born with birth defects.
  3. Allergies, illnesses, and even death can occur in humans.

Causes of Air Pollution

The presence of hazardous substances in the atmosphere, which are largely created by human activity, causes air pollution. It can also occur as a result of natural events such as dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires, which wreak havoc on the air quality.

The following are some of the origins of air pollution:

  1. Emissions From Factories and Industries- Industries and factories pollute the air by releasing large amounts of carbon monoxide, chemicals, hydrocarbons, and other organic substances.
  2. Fossil Fuel Combustion- Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen are produced when fossil fuels such as oil and coal are used for electricity and road traffic.
  3. Waste Production- Methane production in landfills is usually to blame.
  4. Agricultural Activities- One of the most dangerous chemicals released during agricultural activity is ammonia. Insecticides, pesticides, and fertilisers pollute the atmosphere by releasing toxic chemicals.
  5. Mining Activities-The minerals beneath the earth’s surface are retrieved utilising enormous pieces of equipment during the mining operation. The dust and chemicals emitted during the operation not only contaminate the air, but also harm the employees’ and local residents’ health.
  6. Domestic Sources- Toxic chemicals are emitted into the air by household cleaning products and paints. The odour emanating from freshly painted walls is due to the chemicals inherent in the paints. It not only pollutes the air, but it also makes it difficult to breathe.

Air Pollutants

Air pollutants are compounds that collect in high enough concentrations in the air to be detrimental to all organisms or materials exposed to the air.

Some sorts of air pollution are:



  • Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide- Cement manufacturing, deforestation, and the combustion of fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, oil, coal, and wood are all sources of carbon dioxide. Incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials, particularly fuels, is a source of carbon monoxide, a deadly air pollutant.
  • Sulphur and Nitrogen- Major air pollutants include nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2). Petroleum refineries, as well as the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal in power plants, are sources.

Harmfull Effects are,

  1. Respiratory issues, including lung damage that is permanent.
  2. It’s raining acid.
  3. Photochemical haze is a type of smog that causes breathing problems.
  • Particulate Matter- Particulates are solid or liquid particles that remain suspended in air, water, or gas.

Example: Dust, Pollen, Debris, Soot, Acid droplets and Smoke.

Causes: Combustion, construction, road dust, power plants, industries, deforestation and agricultural activities.

Harmfull Effects are,

  1. Respiratory and heart diseases.
  2. Asthma
  3. Birth defects
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)- Compounds containing fluorine, chlorine, and carbon are known as CFCs. CFCs are mostly employed in aerosol sprays and as refrigerants in air conditioners, freezers, and cooling plants. CFCs deplete the ozone layer, which shields the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Individuals may get ailments such as eye damage, skin cancer, and immune system suppression as a result of the increased amount of UV rays.

What is Smog?

Fog and smoke combine to form smog. Smogs come in a variety of forms. The following are examples of smogs:

  • Classical smog: This type of smog arises in humid environments with high levels of Sulphur oxides in the air. Smoke, fog, and primarily Sulphur dioxide gas make up the mixture.
  • Photochemical smog: The smog of this type is common in locations with a dry, sunny climate and a significant number of autos. It is largely generated by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and sunlight.

Harmfull Effects of Smog are:

  1. Asthma, cough, and wheezing are examples of breathing problems.
  2. Plant development is inhibited, resulting in significant agriculture and forest damage.
  3. Metals, construction materials, and painted surfaces corrode as a result of photochemical pollution.

Prevention from Air Pollution

There are a few things you can do to help reduce air pollution:

  • The use of unleaded gasoline should be encouraged.
  • More CNG vehicles should be employed.
  • Pollution checks should be encouraged on a regular basis.
  • Carpooling and taking public transportation should be encouraged.

Sample Questions

Question 1: How can air pollution be reduced?

Answer:

  • As much as possible, take public transportation.
  • Raise public awareness about the need to reduce air pollution.
  • Trees assist to keep the environment clean and prevent air pollution, so plant as many as you can.
  • Vehicles should not be used for short distances.

Question 2: Describe the distinctions between clean and contaminated air.



Answer:

Pure air is composed of 78 percent nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.03 percent carbon dioxide. Other gases like argon, methane, neon, water vapours, and others are found in trace amounts. This air is considered to be polluted when it is tainted by undesired substances such as nitrogen oxide, Sulphur oxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants that have adverse effects on both living and non-living objects.

Question 3: What does it mean to be polluted by the air?

Answer:

The presence of an excessive amount of dangerous elements in the earth’s atmosphere is referred to as air pollution. Carbon monoxide, ammonia, CFCs, methane, and other gases are the principal sources of air pollution. 

Air pollution is described as a change in the quality of air as measured by chemical, physical, or biological pollutants in the atmosphere. It is the undesired presence of pollutants or an increase in the concentration of certain atmospheric elements.

Question 4: What is smog?

Answer:

Smog is the result of a combination of smoke and fog. It may contain nitrogen oxides and other pollutants that are normally emitted into the atmosphere. Asthma, cough, and other respiratory issues can be exacerbated by smog. Due to different sight concerns, smog also increases the number of accidents.

Question 5: What are air pollutants?



Answer:

Air pollutants are compounds that pollute the atmosphere. Smoke and dust from forest fires or volcanic eruptions, as well as some human activities, can occasionally produce such compounds.

Question 6: What are the effects of air pollution?

Answer:

  1. Endangers animal wellbeing as well as the health of plants and flora.
  2. As a result, new-born babies are born with birth defects.
  3. Allergies, illnesses, and even death can occur in humans.

Question 7: What are the effects of Smog?

Answer:

Harmfull Effects of Smog are:

  1. Asthma, cough, and wheezing are examples of breathing problems.
  2. Plant development is inhibited, resulting in significant agriculture and forest damage.
  3. Metals, construction materials, and painted surfaces corrode as a result of photochemical pollution.



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