Air Pollution: Environmental Impact, Causes And Solutions

Air pollution is currently a big issue in most industrialized cities causing respiratory problems and changes in weather patterns. What do you think are the causes of this? What measures can be taken to reduce air pollution?

Air pollution is an issue of gigantic nature and affects millions of people worldwide. It affects people by polluting the climate with poisonous gases, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous chemicals. Air pollution also triggers changes in weather patterns by altering precipitation and wind patterns, aerosol, and cloud formation.

Emissions from vehicles, industrial activities, agricultural practices, household waste, construction, and demolition are some of the major reasons for air pollution.

Enforcement of proper environmental regulations, emission testing, and regulations, the transition towards eco-friendly and electric transportation, and shifting focus toward renewable energy sources can help reduce air pollution.

To begin with, air pollution causes a number of respiratory issues in humans. According to data available from World Health Organization, the combined effects of ambient air pollution and household air pollution are associated with 6.7 million premature deaths annually.

The data further adds that household air pollution was responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year in 2020 alone. The deadliest illnesses linked to air pollution are stroke, heart disease, lung disease, lower respiratory diseases (such as pneumonia), and cancer.

Exposure to particulate matter due to air pollution also reduces the life expectancy of people. Children are particularly vulnerable to the damaging health effects of air pollution due to their unique susceptibility and exposure.

Apart from respiratory issues, air pollution contributes to changes in weather patterns. Likewise, air pollution releases aerosol particles into the atmosphere which leads to cloud formation. Pollutants in the air influence the formation of raindrops and other precipitation particles as well.

Additionally, greenhouse gases in particular trap the solar radiation on the earth’s surface and increases the temperature on Earth leading to urban heat islands, and a rise in the sea level due to glacial melting.

So far the causes of air pollution are concerned these are many in number. First, traffic congestion in cities leads to poor air quality in certain areas. Second, exhaustive emissions from cars, trucks, rails, and airplanes contributors to air pollution. They release pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Third, factories and power plants release pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), NOx, PM, and hazardous chemicals into the air.

Forth, agricultural practices like livestock farming produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas to pollute the air. Lastly, natural disasters like storms, volcanoes, and wildfires also contribute much to polluting the air on the planet Earth. 

Air pollution can’t be curtailed altogether however it can be lessened to a considerable extent by enforcing several regulations. For instance, by implementing emission testing regulations to keep safe levels of emissions into the environment must be in place.

Moreover, the use of electric vehicles, hybrid cars, and vehicles powered by alternative fuels must be encouraged to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. Also, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy for power generation is indispensable to reviving air quality.

Switzerland, for example, has implemented a combination of policies, and initiatives to maintain relatively clean air quality. The country has established strict environmental regulations to limit emissions from industries, vehicles, and power plants.

Besides, the country has shifted away from the use of fossil fuels by shifting to renewable and safe energy options. The country also implements comprehensive air quality monitoring practices, land use planning, and public awareness practices to keep its air clean and breathable.

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