Air pollution occurs when harmful or excessive quantities of substances are released into Earth’s atmosphere. Sources of air pollution include gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane and chlorofluorocarbons. It may cause diseases, allergies and even death to humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops, and may damage the natural or built environment. Both human activity and natural processes can generate air pollution.
It is a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases, including respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. The human health effects of poor air quality are far reaching, but principally affect the body’s respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. Individual reactions to air pollutants depend on the type of pollutant a person is exposed to, the degree of exposure, and the individual’s health status and genetics.
Overall, air pollution causes the deaths of around 7 million people worldwide each year, and is the world’s largest single environmental health risk.
Effects of Air Pollution
- Diseases: Air pollution has resulted in several respiratory disorders and heart diseases among humans. The cases of lung cancer have increased in the last few decades. Children living near polluted areas are more prone to pneumonia and asthma. Many people die every year due to the direct or indirect effects of air pollution.
- Global Warming: Due to the emission of greenhouse gases, there is an imbalance in the gaseous composition of the air. This has led to an increase in the temperature of the earth. This increase in earth’s temperature is known as global warming. This has resulted in the melting of glaciers and an increase in sea levels. Many areas are submerged under water.
- Acid Rain: The burning of fossil fuels releases harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides in the air. The water droplets combine with these pollutants, become acidic, and fall as acid rain which damages human, animal and plant life.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: The release of chlorofluorocarbons and hydro chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is the major cause of depletion of the ozone layer. The depleting ozone layer does not prevent the harmful ultraviolet rays coming from the sun and causes skin diseases and eye problems among individuals.
- Effect on Animals: The air pollutants suspend on the water bodies and affect the aquatic life. Pollution also compels the animals to leave their habitat and shift to a new place. This renders them stray and has also led to the extinction of a large number of animals species.