To live, we need to breathe. To breathe, we need fresh air. Fresh air is one of the basic and essential things we need to live on earth. Fresh air is equally important to every one us as food and water. Even plants need oxygen to convert food into energy. From these things, we can understand the importance of oxygen and fresh air. A place without oxygen will be a dead zone with no humans, animals, and plants. Without oxygen, nobody can survive on earth.
All these facts point the fingers at the importance of keeping air pollution-free. But the truth is, the air is getting polluted at a massive rate every day. There are hundreds of causes. In these, there are some which are very harmful to us. But how can we reduce the rate of air pollution? Well, there are different ways that we could try to stop air pollution. Before that, let us find out what are the utmost causes of air pollution. Here are they.
What Do We Mean By Air Pollution?
It’s simple. Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air like Nitrogen Oxide, Volatile Organic Compounds, Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Oxide, dioxins, and other harmful gases. Once these gases are released, they become a colossal threat to the environment and human health.
How Do We Know the Quality of Air?
The purity of air measured using an AQI thermometer that runs on a scale from 0 to 500. The AQI refers to Air Quality Index. It measures how pure or polluted the surrounding air is. If the numeric value on the scale is between 0-50, the quality of the surrounding air is considered healthy and satisfactory. As the values increase, the quality of the air decreases. If AQI is showing a value of 500, that means you are standing in a hazardous surrounding. Have a look at the AQI chart below for more details.
Major Causes Of Air Pollution
It is well known to everyone how air pollution happens. It happens in many ways. Sometimes careless and reckless human activities lead to the major reasons for air pollution. Even though, here are some of the common causes of air pollution.
Burning of Plastic Wastes.
How do we avoid plastics from our houses? Either we throw them or light them up, right? These careless acts will lead to the worst pollution ever. Burning them releases toxic gases like dioxins, furans, mercury, and polychlorinated. These gases are a threat to the atmosphere, vegetation, humans, and animal health. If we throw them out, they can remain in the soil for 20-500 years before fully decomposing based on the material and structure. Over these years, it pollutes the soil and harms the earth.
So, burning and throwing plastic does not work and leads to air pollution or soil pollution in the long term perspective. Then what will we do? Well, we can recycle and reuse plastic to an extent. But once the plastic is melted and reformed into new products, the quality of plastic gets reduced. In addition, the quality of plastic will keep reducing with every successive recycling. Furthermore, recycling is limited to a number 3 or 4 times because of the quality compromise of plastic.
In fact, we only have a limited number of opportunities in the case of plastic. Either we reduce the use of plastic or recycle and reuse them as much as we can.
Limiting the use of plastic seems more practical and smooth in our day-to-day life. There are many instances where we can reduce the use of plastic. Here are some of the tracts where we can instantly act to limit the usages of plastic
- Use cloth bags instead of plastics bags while going to the shops.
- Use paper plates and tumblers instead of plastic ones when you arrange a tea party or get-togethers.
- Use paper straws in restaurants and coffee shops.
- Use paper bottled soft drinks.
There are more and more situations where we can reduce the unnecessary use of plastic covers and materials. It can turn out well when more people come forward with the same mindset of bringing down plastic use.
Are there any alternatives for plastic?
Yes, there are. But literally, there are no materials with the exact matching properties with plastic. For instance, properties like durability, strength, water-resistant, lightweight, and inexpensive are rare to find in materials without polymer as an ingredient. Scientists and researchers are trying to formulate materials with the matching properties as plastic but with less pollution.
As said earlier, there are many instances where we can reduce the use of plastic and always try to avoid it as much as we can. Even if they are baby steps towards reducing plastic, take it and help our environment. Moreover, be a part of keeping the city and your premises clean.
Industries play a colossal role in all kinds of pollutions. They contribute almost one-third to the overall when we compare industrial pollution with other causes. Industries will be the 2nd largest cause of air pollution, water pollution, and sound pollution. Pollutants like carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, and Sulfur dioxide are released when they operate factories and industries. The volume of pollutants released into the atmosphere is way more than we imagine and the problems they can make are huge.
It is necessary to know where the pollution happens and who pollutes the air the most. Studies say that industries that produce electricity pollute the atmosphere more than any other industry.
A considerable amount of pollutants is kicked from the industries when the continuous burning of fossil fuels happened. These emitted gases make the most of the troubles to the ozone layer and cause ozone layer depletion. We need both electricity and the earth. We can not avoid one or the other for any reason. The only way is to protect both without harming each other. The only solution for this will be the rise of green energy. Only the challenge facing is the continuous supply of energy. Green energy like solar and wind are very cost-effective and pollution-free when comparing to the traditional ones.
Each and every individual can contribute and can be a part of saving the earth from air pollution and global warming. Switch to green energy as much as we can and reduce the consumption of traditional electricity from the government or private companies. Nowadays, everybody has inverters in the home as a standard facility. It will not cost you much to connect 2 or 3 solar panels to the battery and save 60% power usage from the traditional electric supply.
How can we reduce industrial air pollution?
As we said earlier, industries and factories are essential for the growth of the people and nation. We can’t stop factories in the name of air pollution. What we can do is, we can find some ways to reduce the amount of air pollution. For instance, we should try to convert these harmful gases to regular gases with the help of proper techniques and setups.
Most importantly, people living near industrial areas are very likely to have many allergies and lung diseases. Always wear a mask when you are going out or going near industrial and factory areas. If you are working in an industrial area, always wear a mask and other safety gear to ensure maximum safety.
Wildfires can take place at any time. It is an unplanned and uncontrolled fire caused by lightning strikes. As the name says, it occurs largely in forest areas. Mostly, the lighting strikes on the trees, branches, dry grass, and then the fire is generated. Eventually, this fire will spread to other trees, branches, and grasses and becomes wildfires, and causes air pollution.
Wildfires are common forested areas of the United States and Canada. It is one of the causes of air pollution, deforestation, and animal extinction. In a wildfire, many animals lose their lives and shelter. Some get burns and wounds in the running through the wildfire.
All these will continue until fire settles down. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days to settle down completely. But in the end, we lose animals, trees, the environment, and what not?
Also, sometimes the causes of wildfire can be different. Sometimes it happens due to the carelessness of people living around the forest. For instance, even trash burning and campfires can spread fire if not concerned well. So it is always recommended to take precautions while doing wildfire potential activities.
Wildfires get worse when unattended. If you notice any fires or burns that need attention, call the authorities. Sometimes the fire can be controlled before getting worse.
Transportation holds a neck-to-neck position with industries in the rate of air pollution. As we all know, the number of vehicles on the road is increasing day by day. Just look around, we could see houses with more than three vehicles even if they don’t need all of them. As the number of vehicles increases, the rate of pollution also tends to be increased. Old model vehicles are more likely to produce more pollution than new ones. Because when the vehicles get older and older, the amount of carbon emission increases. The rate of pollution is still on the rise even after the government and authorities made pollution laws strict.
Every country has its own vehicle emission standards or norms for the safety of the environment and people living in the country. But still, transportation holds the position for the majority of air pollutions happening around the world.
How can we reduce pollution caused by vehicles?
Earlier, it was challenging to find an alternative for fuels like petrol or diesel. Right now, technology has improved – researchers found a better alternative solution for the petrol and diesel engines for automobiles. Yes, they are EV’s. Electric vehicles are completely different from traditional vehicles. They are pollution-free and highly efficient than fuel engines. Electric vehicles can be charged from the house or charging stations in and around the city. EV’s have 5x efficiency more than the regular diesel or petrol-fueled automobiles and 4x lesser reduced pollution.
EV’s are on the rise. By 2025, at least 50% of the new vehicles coming out from the factories will be electric vehicles. It will seriously help to reduce the rate of pollution to some extend. People will switch to EV’s when companies launch better models with luxury and comfort.
It may sound crazy to most of us. But think about walking a little every day and avoid taking cars or bikes for smaller distances. Or, use a bicycle to travel nearby. It will help us to improve both our health and the earth’s health.
What are the health issues due to air pollution?
The quality of the air we breathe is very crucial. Poor quality can cause many health diseases in both adults and kids. Especially to the people living in cities, the chances of getting a disease like heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infections are very high.
Long-term exposure to polluted air in kids can lead to loss of lung capacity, asthma and emphysema. In addition, senior citizens are more likely to get allergies and breathing difficulties since they are less immune to the conditions. As a precaution to all of these, we can wear a mask while going out and traveling. If you are living in a highly polluted area, consider buying an air purifier for your home. An air purifier can help to improve the quality of air by filtering and thereby enabling a healthy environment inside our home for everyone.
How does air pollution affect environmental health?
The toxic gases also affect the environment in the same way. As the amount of harmful gases increases in the earth, the uncertainty of the environment’s health also increases. Changes in climates like temperature hikes, monsoon pattern shifts, and unexpected cyclones are a few examples. In these, ozone layer depletion is being the most complicated one.
We already know what is an ozone layer, and whats does it do? Let’s recall them for a while. The ozone layer is a part of the earth’s atmosphere, and it absorbs almost all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light. Guess what will happen when the ozone layer gets holes. All the harmful rays will fall into the animals, plants, and people on earth through the ozone layer holes. Studies say that by 2064 the ozone layer concentration levels may come to zero if the rate of pollution continues invariably. If that happens, the earth will not be a suitable place to live. The fun factor is, we don’t have any space other than earth to live right now. So, we have to protect the planet from being a desert.
Day by day, the rate of pollution is increasing. The hard truth is, nobody is really caring about the future of our planet. Even the government and authorities are keeping their eyes closed on social issues like global warming, air pollution, and soil erosion. If it keeps going like this, the earth will become uninhabitable.
Protecting the earth from pollutions is not deputed on somebody else. Each one of us should take responsibility and behave sensibly to protect the earth from pollution.