What Is Air Pollution?
Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air — pollutants that damage human health and the entire planet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes the deaths of nearly seven million people worldwide each year.
Nine out of ten people currently breathe air that exceeds WHO guidelines on air pollution, and those living in low- and middle-income countries suffer the most.
Effects of Air Pollution
The effects of air pollution on the human body vary depending on the type of contamination and the degree of exposure — and other factors, including individual health risks and the accumulated effects of many pollutants or stressors.
Smog and soot
Smoke (sometimes called ozone depletion) occurs when flammable fuels are released by sunlight. Ash (also known as particle matter) is made up of tiny chemical particles, soil, smoke, dust, or other solvents — either gas or solids — that are carried in the air.
Sources of smog and soot are the same. Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power stations, burners, engines, and usually anything that burns fossil fuels such as coal, gas, or natural gas.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and throat and damage the lungs, especially those of children, adults, and people who work or exercise outside. These extra pollutants can intensify their symptoms and cause asthma attacks.
The smallest particles in the air, whether air or solid, are especially dangerous because they can invade the lungs, bloodstream, and even worse, causing heart disease and death.
Because highways and historically polluted areas have been inhabited by or near low-income areas the negative effects of this pollution on people living in these communities are being misdiagnosed.
In 2019 the Union of Concerned Scientists found that soot exposure was 34 percent higher among Americans, on average than in other Americans. For Black people, the exposure rate was 24 percent higher; for Latinos was 23 percent more.
Too much air pollution poses a serious health risk and can sometimes be fatal even in small amounts. About 200 of them are regulated by law; the most common are mercury, lead, dioxins, and benzene.
Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by EPA, can cause short-term eye, skin, and lung irritation and long-term blood disorders.
Dioxins, commonly found in food but also in small amounts in the air, can affect the liver in a short time and damage the immune system, nerves, and endocrine systems, and reproductive functions.
Mercury attacks the central nervous system.
In large quantities, lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even a little exposure can affect children’s IQ and learning ability.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer, which protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation produced by the sun.
CFCs and HCFCs also warm the earth’s atmosphere, changing the earth’s climate. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) also work to warm the planet.
Why are CFCs and HFCs harmful to the environment?
• Ozone depletion
Man-made compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons destroy the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere).
The stratospheric ozone layer makes life possible by protecting the earth from the harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation emanating from the sun.
Decreased concentrations of stratospheric ozone allow additional UV-B concentrations to reach the earth’s surface.
• Stratospheric ozone depletion can lead to potential harm to human health and the environment, including:
• Increased incidence of skin cancer and cataract
• Immune damage
• damage to land and aquatic plants
• increased ozone depletion (smog)
Most stratospheric ozone depletion is caused when chlorine or bromine reacts with ozone. Most of the chlorine that enters the stratosphere comes from man-made sources (84%), such as CFCs and HCFCs and the remaining 16% comes from natural sources, such as the oceans and volcanoes.
About half of the bromine that enters the stratosphere comes from man-made sources, especially Halon.
Air Pollution Control
In the United States, the Clean Air Act has been an important tool in reducing air pollution since the 1970s, although fossil fuels are aided by industry-friendly lawmakers who have repeatedly tried to undermine its many defenses.
Ensuring that this basic environmental law remains the same and applied properly will always be key to maintaining and improving our air quality.
But the best, most effective way to control air pollution is to speed up our transition to clean oil and industrial processes.
By switching to renewable energy sources (such as wind power and solar power), increasing fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and replacing more of our fuel-efficient vehicles and trucks with electric versions, we will be reducing air pollution from its source.
While also preventing global warming that exacerbates your many serious health effects.
How Can You Help Reduce Air Pollution?
Carefully choose your transportation. If you can, walk, bike, or take public transportation.
By driving, choose a car that gets miles better per gallon of gas, or choose an electric car. ” You can also check your power provider options – you can request that your electricity be supplied with wind or sun.
Buying local food reduces fossil fuels from trucks or flying foods from around the country.
How to Protect Your Health from Air Pollution
• In general, ozone levels are usually lower in the morning.
• When exercising outdoors, stay away from crowded streets. Then wash and dry your clothes to remove fine particles.
• The air may look clear, but that does not mean that it is not polluted. Use tools like the EPA to monitor air pollution, Air Now, to get the latest trends. If the air quality is bad, stay indoors with windows closed.
• If you live or work in a volcanic area, avoid as much smoke as possible. Consider keeping a small stock of masks to wear when conditions are not ideal.
• Wear sunscreen. When ultraviolet radiation reaches a weak layer of ozone, it can cause skin damage and skin cancer.
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