We explain what air pollution is and what its causes and consequences are. In addition, its characteristics, possible solutions, and more.
What about air pollution?
Air pollution, also called air pollution, is the presence of toxic substances in the air.
Pollution occurs when certain agents that are harmful to live beings appear in some sector of the environment. These agents can be chemical, physical, or biological.
Pollution is considered when substances have accumulated to such an extent that their concentration becomes toxic to living beings. Various organisms can be affected: humans , animals or plants .
When the air is polluted, it can affect other sectors of the ecosystem . For example, when it rains where there are polluting gases in the air, the water carries away those pollutants forming acid rain , which in turn pollutes the water and soil .
It has had very serious consequences such as the extinction of both animal and plant species, as well as various diseases (some fatal) in human beings.
Air pollution characteristics :
The causes of pollution are called "sources." Fixed polluting sources are those that remain in the same place for a considerable time
. Its consequence is that the contamination is concentrated in a single place. For example: chemical industries, power plants , refineries, factories, etc.
They are those that do not remain in the same place
, for example, all means of transport including cars, planes, trains, etc.
They are the sources that are found numerous times in a scattered area
. Stoves are an example of area contamination, since for example in a town they exist in a large area, accumulating their harmful effects.
They are those that are not a consequence of man's actions. They may be:
- Product of the presence of certain living beings. For example, mold and fungi emit gases as a waste product of their metabolism. In open places, these gases dissipate. On the contrary, in closed environments these gases accumulate, reaching concentration levels that are harmful to humans. That is why humidity in rooms and warehouses is dangerous, since it causes fungus and mold.
- Product of geological phenomena. The eruption of volcanoes can produce large concentrations of gases and suspended particles that make the air toxic for the respiration of both humans and animals.
- Other natural sources. The erosion of stones by the effect of water or wind, as well as storms in the desert , produce some atmospheric pollution to a lesser extent.
Effects on the environment
As already noted, air pollution causes acid rain
, which changes the pH of the earth and surface water bodies, in some cases to the point of rendering them unfit for the growth of living beings.
In addition, polluting gases penetrate the pores of developing plants
, reducing their protection against diseases and causing the loss of water.
Effects on humans
The World Health Organization has determined that approximately 2 million people can die from causes associated with air pollution
. These diseases include asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other lung diseases, as well as heart attacks.
The people most vulnerable to air pollutants are the elderly and children . The first symptoms to develop when exposed to airborne pollutants are headache, dizziness, and nausea
They are those that come directly from the source of emission
. Among the primary pollutants are toxic gases from fuel use and nitrogen oxides .
They are those that are formed from chemical reactions that certain substances have with others. Examples:
- Ozone. It is formed from the combination of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the presence of light Solar
- Nitrogen dioxide. It is formed when nitrogen monoxide combines with oxygen in the air.
Main polluting gases
- Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)
- Carbon monoxide
- Carbon dioxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen oxides
There are contributions that each citizen can make individually to reduce environmental pollution:
- Choose public transport or bicycle.
- When possible, install non-polluting home energy sources (solar or wind power).
- Avoid the excessive use of gas and other fossil fuels in heating and cooking.
In addition, governments and various organizations can:
- Establish a network of clean energy sources, such as wind or solar energy, based on state investments or encourage private investments.
- Increase green areas, as plants consume carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen.
- Promote scientific research and technological development of fuels with less toxic waste.
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