What is air pollution?
Have you ever walked through a busy street, only to be greeted with a whiff of poisonous fumes that arose from the endless stream of cars? Or have you marveled at the hazy, golden glow of a city skyline, only to realize it's a nefarious veil of smog draped across the sky?
It's time we address the invisible monster lurking all around us - air pollution. This seemingly innocuous presence has far greater consequences than we may have ever realized.
Today, we shall dive into unraveling the enigma of air pollution, which can no longer only be dismissed as dramatic sunsets, misty mornings, or the smell of diesel in city centers. Prepare to delve into a world so vast and complex, demanding our utmost attention and action - before the consequences become irrevocable.
Definition of air pollution
Air pollution refers to the presence of harmful substances in the indoor and outdoor atmosphere that negatively impact the wellbeing of humans, animals, plants, and the environment.
These pollutants often originate from anthropogenic activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, industrial emissions, and transportation, but can also result from natural phenomena.
Exposure to air pollution contributes to a range of health problems, including respiratory issues and chronic conditions, and is responsible for millions of premature deaths worldwide each year, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Causes of air pollution
Air pollution is primarily caused by the release of hazardous substances from both human-made and natural sources.
Human-made sources include vehicle emissions, fuel oils, and natural gas to heat homes, manufacturing by-products, and coal-fueled power plants. On the other hand, natural sources entail smoke from wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and gasses like methane emitted from decomposing organic matter in soils.
Sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution
Indoor and outdoor air pollution is a significant issue in modern society, affected by a variety of factors such as pollution sources, ventilation conditions, indoor activities, and the outdoor environment.
Outdoor air pollution mainly stems from anthropogenic sources such as energy generation, transportation, and industrial activities, while indoor air pollution comes from furnishing, building materials, paints, sprays, pesticides, and much more.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution can be more harmful than the outdoor. These can release harmful pollutants like asbestos, formaldehyde, VOCs, biological pollutants, radon, lead and pesticides.
The WHO estimates that indoor air pollution causes 3.8 million deaths yearly. It is important to ensure proper ventilation and clean indoor air to reduce the risk of health problems related to indoor air pollution.
Health effects of air pollution
Air pollution poses significant risks to human health, both in the short-term and long-term. In the short-term, exposure to elevated levels of air pollution can lead to skin diseases and respiratory issues such as coughing, irritation of the airways, and exacerbation of asthma. Long-term exposure can result in more severe health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart conditions, and an increased risk of cancer.
Individuals most susceptible to air pollution-related health issues include the elderly, pregnant women and children.