Air pollution is defined as the contamination of the air by impurities. Pollution can affect humans, plants and also the environment. Impurities also known as pollutants can occur naturally or can occur as a result of human activities. Natural pollutants include: dust, pollen, smoke from forest fires, and gases from decaying organism. But nevertheless, human activities are the leading main cause of air pollution. Pollutants are classified as either primary or secondary. They are considered primary pollutants, because they come directly from various sources, and secondary which are byproducts of chemical interactions of the primary pollutants within the atmosphere.
The most effective pollutants include: sulfur oxides, which are caused as a result of burning coals and oils. They are considered the most dangerous and irritating of all pollutants (Haynes, 1994). Sulfur dioxide can be converted to sulfuric acid which is deposited back into the earth by rain. This is known as acid rain.
Another major pollutant is carbon oxides (carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) Carbon monoxide which is a colorless and odorless poisonous gas is produced when fuel such as natural gas, coal or wood is incompletely burned.
Exhausts from automobiles are a major source of carbon monoxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas caused by normal combustion. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. The main source of carbon dioxide emission is from fossil fuel combustion for energy use and transportation. Thirdly is Nitrogen oxides which are produced in automobile engines, are emitted from high temperature combustion.
When nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon are combined, they produce ozone which constitutes to smog.Chlorofluorocarbons are also considered a pollutant. They contribute to the greenhouse effect which results in global warming.
Other primary pollutants produced by human activity includes: Hydrocarbon, ammonia, toxic metals, radioactive pollutants and odors from factories and waste. Secondary pollutants consist of Ground level ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate and ozone. Ozone is formed in the atmosphere near ground level when primary pollutants are oxidized in the presence of light. (ae.mm.ac.uk/eae.html.) Air pollution can also occur indoors. Poor ventilation concentrates air pollution. Causes of indoor air pollution results from carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by burning of charcoals indoors and also poorly adjusted pilots lights. Households chemicals such as insectides and paint strippers also constitutes to indoor air pollution. Another source of indoor air pollution is clothing. Dry cleaning fluids such as tetrachloethlene are emitted from clothing days after dry cleaning. Smoking and cooking also contributes to indoor air pollution. Since we spend 90% of our time indoors, air quality can have a great effect on our health. Air Pollution is a global issue, not just one country's problem. Millions die each year from direct causes that are attributed to air pollution. These include: asthma, emphysema respiratory and heart disease. Since polluted air can move from one area or region to another, it has the potential to affect everyone.
Air pollution aggravates and, possibly, even causes asthma and other allergic respiratory diseases. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth and low birth weight, have also been associated with air pollution (Holdren and Smith 2000). Air pollution is linked to other environmental problems such as global warming and ozone depletion. Because of the Co2 that are emitted from exhausts, the global temperature is increasing causing icebergs and glaciers to melt, a raise in sea levels and unpredictable weather. Chlorofluorocarbons are the main source of ozone depletion. CFCs which are found in freezers and air conditioners destroy the ozone layer. Thirdly, air pollution can lead to a loss of bio diversity. Animals are exposed to air pollutants through the inhalation of gases. Soft bodied animals are prone to the absorption of gases through the skin. Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide affect the respiratory systems of animals. These animals that are affected by air pollution can become endangered or even extinct.Plants/vegetation can also be affected due to sulfur dioxide which is one of the main components of acid rain. Acid rain can cause a change in the appearance of plants which can affect how they photosynthesize. The acid in the rain bonds with the minerals in the soil, tying them up so that plants can not use them. The plant becomes mineral deficient and weak. The rain also kills the plant's leaves, further weakening it and making the plant more vulnerable to fungus and other diseases. Air pollution is a major problem affecting the entire world. Everyone can play a role in preventing air pollution and reducing air pollution.
Many cities in the United States are setting standards to combat pollution. In 1970 the Clean Air Act Amendments set new emission standards for new factories and hazardous industrial pollutants. To prevent air pollution it is important to understand how the air is being polluted, how it impacts on the ecosystem and what we can do about it. We need energy to drive our cars, heat and light our house. Since most of the energy we use comes from the burning of fossil fuels, as individuals we can reduce energy consumption that will lead to a reduction of emissions. Fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient. They save 45 watts more than incendant. The proper disposing of household paints, incestides and solvents can reduce air pollution. Since transportation is rapidly increasing it is with no doubt that more pollution by vehicles is likely to occur. So as an alternative to driving we can use public transportation or even walk to our destination. We can also reduce the amount of time using water heaters. These recommendations not only save the environment but also save money.Countries like Belize where people depend on wood for energy; they can control/ limit the amount of wood they burn. Public transportation such as buses can replace particulate emitting gases with low sulfur fuel. Emission inspection and maintenance can also be implemented.