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What is Atmospheric Pollution?

  • Last Updated : 20 Oct, 2021

The scientific study of chemical and biological processes that occur in natural settings is known as Environmental chemistry. It’s not to be confused with green chemistry, which aims to eliminate pollution at the source. It is the study of chemical species’ origins, interactions, movement, impacts, and destinies in the air, soil, and water environments, as well as the impact of human and biological activities on these.

 Environmental chemistry is an interdisciplinary discipline that encompasses atmospheric, aquatic, and soil chemistry, as well as depending significantly on analytical chemistry and being linked to other fields of research. To aid in their research of what is occurring to a chemical species in the environment, environmental chemists use a variety of ideas from chemistry and different environmental disciplines. Understanding chemical processes and equations, solutions, units, sampling, and analytical methods are all important general chemistry topics.

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Atmospheric Pollution

Atmospheric pollution is described as the introduction of undesirable elements into the atmosphere as a result of natural occurrences or human activities on Earth, causing air quality to deteriorate and, as a result, life on Earth to suffer.

The troposphere and the stratosphere are the two primary sections of the Earth’s atmosphere. The troposphere is the part of the atmosphere closest to the earth. Humans and animals live here, and it is also where the majority of biological activity occurs. Pollution in this area is caused by poisonous gases, smoke, fumes, smog, and other pollutants. We’re all concerned about the ozone layer’s ongoing depletion, which exposes the Earth and all living things to the damaging effects of UV radiation.

Types of Atmospheric Pollution

  • According to research on atmospheric pollution, contaminants may be divided into two groups:
    1. Primary pollutants: Pollutants that are released directly from sources are known as primary pollutants. Toxic gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen sulphide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter such as smoke, dust, fumes, ash, metal particles, and others fall into this group.
    2. Secondary pollutants: Pollutants generated in the atmosphere as a result of chemical interactions involving primary pollutants are known as secondary pollutants. The primary chemical reactions that contribute to secondary pollutants are oxidation, dissociation, and dissolution. This includes sulphur trioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, and other contaminants.
  • Based on their physical properties, atmospheric pollutants may be classified into two classes.
    1. Gaseous Pollutants: Pollutants that combine with air in a gaseous state and do not settle down are referred to as gaseous pollutants. Gaseous contaminants include both inorganic and organic gases. Low-boiling-point chemicals’ vapours can also be classified as gaseous pollutants. Sulfur dioxide, sulphur trioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones, and other pollutants are among them.
    2. Particulate matter or Particulates: All compounds that are not gases yet are present in the atmosphere are referred to as “particulate.” Particulates, also known as particle matter, are pollutants that mix with air in a liquid or solid state and either stay suspended for a long period or settle down. Bacteria, fungus, and moulds are examples of microorganisms, as are mists, smoke, fumes, dust, carbon particles, lead, cadmium compounds, cotton dust, and other pollutants.

Major sources of Atmospheric Pollution

  • Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide is released into the environment through incomplete combustion of fuels in vehicles, fireplaces, and different industries.
  • Carbon dioxide: Plants require carbon dioxide, which is a naturally occurring gas in the atmosphere. As a result of the burning of fuels in houses and factories, it is released into the atmosphere.
  • Sulphur dioxide: When sulphur-containing coal and petroleum are burnt, it is also a common pollutant.
  • Sulphur trioxide: Sulphur trioxide is formed when SO2 is oxidised in the presence of sunlight in the atmosphere.
  • Oxides of nitrogen: Among the nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the most important air pollutants. The burning of fossil fuels in cars and thermal power plants is the major source of nitrogen oxides.

Causes of Atmospheric Pollution

  • Deforestation: Deforestation is a pollutant source in the atmosphere. Green plants purify the air by using CO2 for photosynthesis and releasing O2 into the environment. As a result, plants help to reduce air pollution. As a result, excessive tree cutting leads to pollution in the air.
  • Industrial processes: A wide range of industrial operations can contribute to air pollution. For example, the sulphuric acid industry releases a large quantity of SO2 into the atmosphere; the iron and steel industry releases SO2, CO, CO2, metal oxides, and other pollutants; and so on. The fertiliser sector produces nitrogen oxides and dust; the cement industry produces dust including sodium, potassium, aluminium, calcium, and other metal oxides; and the petrochemical industry produces CO, NH3, formaldehyde, gasoline, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and other air pollutants.
  • Combustion of fuels: The burning of fuels such as coal, wood, petrol, and diesel in different businesses and cars is the primary source of air pollution. Thermal power plants and a number of businesses utilise coal as a fuel. CO2, SO2, CO, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants are released into the environment when coal is burned, contaminating the air. Fuel burning creates smoke with a high percentage of carbon monoxide in planes and cars.
  • Usage of pesticides: Pesticides, weedicides, and other chemicals are increasingly used in agricultural and other operations. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, organic phosphates, lead, mercury, and other pollutants are discharged into the atmosphere when pesticides are sprayed on crops, contaminating the air.
  • Sewage and domestic refuse: Because sewage and household garbage include CO, CO2, hydrocarbons, and other dangerous gases, they release foul-smelling gases that contaminate the air.
  • Nuclear explosions: Nuclear explosions pollute the environment by releasing uranium and beryllium dust, radioisotopes, and dangerous radioactive radiations into the atmosphere.
  • Usage of toxic solvents: Toxic solvents are employed in a number of operations, including painting furniture, automobiles, and other things, as well as dyeing, printing, and dry cleaning, and they release a variety of pollutants into the environment, including hydrocarbons and organic vapours.

Effects of Atmospheric Pollution

  1. Global warming: As a result of greenhouse gas emissions, the gaseous composition of the atmosphere has become unbalanced. As a result, the Earth’s temperature has risen. A rise in the Earth’s temperature is referred to as global warming. As a result, glaciers have melted and sea levels have risen as a result of this. The island is entirely underwater in several places.
  2. Acid rain: When the atmosphere is severely contaminated with nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, acid rain occurs. Hazardous gases are released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. Acid rain occurs when water droplets come into contact with these pollutants, causing damage to people, animals, and plants.
  3. Disease: As a result of air pollution, humans have been diagnosed with a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. Lung cancer has been more prevalent in recent decades. Children who live in polluted areas are more likely to get pneumonia and asthma. Every year, a huge number of people die as a result of air pollution’s direct or indirect effects.
  4. Harmful effect on Animals: Pollutants in the air settle in the water, posing a threat to aquatic life. Animals are often forced to abandon their native habitats due to pollution. As a result, they become stray, leading to the extinction of numerous animal species.
  5. Ozone layer Depletion: The release of chlorofluorocarbons, halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere is the primary cause of ozone layer depletion. The loss of the ozone layer does not shield humans from the sun’s damaging UV radiation, which cause skin illnesses and eye issues.
  6. Harmful effects on plants: Pollution in the atmosphere damages plants, causing leaf loss, reduced leaf size, and premature ageing. It also harms plants, producing leaf spotting, delayed photosynthetic activity, and inhibited vegetative development.

Atmospheric Pollution Indicator

Lichen is usually a sign of pollution in the air: Natural markers like lichens are normally utilized. There might be no lichens present, possibly green growth if the air is amazingly contaminated with sulfur dioxide. Shrubby, furry, and verdant lichens become normal when the air is perfect. A couple of lichen animal types can withstand high measures of contamination and are consistently seen on city walkways, dividers, and tree rinds.  

The scattering of air poisons through enormous smokestack stacks brought about corrosive downpour, turning into a perceived worldwide issue. Lichens on bark have been influenced via air contamination and corrosive affidavit, especially on the grounds that tree husk has become progressively acidic. Notwithstanding lower measures of vaporous sulfur dioxide, the bark of more established trees is excessively acidic for recolonisation in certain locales and new development structures on twigs and more youthful trees.

Prevention of Atmospheric Pollution

  • Use of public vehicle and carpooling – By diminishing the measure of fuel combusted for a singular’s transportation needs, he/she can bring down the measure of poisons being delivered into the climate and cause less air contamination. Besides, these choices are additionally financially proficient and can assist with setting aside cash also.  
  • Turning off the lights when they’re not being used – Most of our power is created from the burning of petroleum products, which are a tremendous donor towards air contamination. Subsequently, saving power is a successful method of forestalling air contamination.  
  • Reusing and reusing items – By reusing items (that can be reused), the measure of energy that goes into assembling another of those items is saved. Moreover, reusing items is likewise more energy-effective than the assembling of new ones.
  • Keeping away from the consumption of trash and smoking – Consuming trash is a tremendous supporter of air contamination. One more supporter of air contamination is cigarette smoking. Keeping away from these exercises and spreading attention to their adverse results can be of incredible assistance in the anticipation of air contamination.  
  • Staying away from the utilization of fireworks – Fireworks are for the most part used to praise specific events. In any case, they are known to cause serious air contamination and are, hence, very destructive to the climate. Specifically staying away from the utilization of fireworks and spreading mindfulness about their adverse results is an incredible way of forestalling air contamination.

Sample Questions 

Question 1:  What is means by atmospheric pollution?

Answer:

Atmospheric pollution is described as the introduction of undesirable elements into the atmosphere as a result of natural occurrences or human activities on Earth, causing air quality to deteriorate and, as a result, life on Earth to suffer.

Question 2: What is the effect of atmospheric pollution?



Answer:

The effects of air pollution include 

  • Global warming
  • Acid rain, illnesses
  • Negative effects on animals and plants
  • Ozone depletion.

Question 3: What are the major atmospheric pollutants?

Answer:

Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, sulphur trioxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, ozone, and hydrocarbons are the primary air pollutants.

Question 4: What is a Gaseous pollutant?

Answer:

Pollutants that combine with air in a gaseous state and do not settle down are referred to as gaseous pollutants. Gaseous contaminants include both inorganic and organic gases. Low-boiling-point chemicals’ vapours can also be classified as gaseous pollutants. Sulfur dioxide, sulphur trioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones, and other pollutants are among them.

Question 5: What are particulates?

Answer:

 All compounds that are not gases yet are present in the atmosphere are referred to as “particulate.” Particulates, also known as particle matter, are pollutants that mix with air in a liquid or solid state and either stay suspended for a long period or settle down. Bacteria, fungus, and moulds are examples of microorganisms, as are mists, smoke, fumes, dust, carbon particles, lead, cadmium compounds, cotton dust, and other pollutants.

Question 6: What is meant by Secondary pollutants?

Answer:

Pollutants generated in the atmosphere as a result of chemical interactions involving primary pollutants are known as secondary pollutants. The primary chemical reactions that contribute to secondary pollutants are oxidation, dissociation, and dissolution. This includes sulphur trioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, and other contaminants.




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