Air pollution is the presence of pollutants in pollutants atmosphere in concentrations that may endanger the health and the environment. Pollutants due to human activities or natural processes adversely affect humans and the environment.
Air consists of a mixture of gases. The first ingredient, oxygen, makes up fifth, or 21% of the total, 78% is nitrogen, 0.03% carbon dioxide, 0.9% argon, and the rest are other gases. The composition of the air contains the three most important life-supporting components: oxygen (necessary for respiration), carbon dioxide (necessary for photosynthesis), and nitrogen (necessary for the synthesis of plant protein). Almost every life on Earth depends on the air, and every change in its composition affects it. A person inhales about 20 thousand liters of air every day so that polluted air can bring in a large amount of pollutants substances that adversely affect health.
Sources of air pollution can be
The most common sources of anthropogenic air pollution are industry, traffic, thermal power plants, heating plants, agriculture, etc. Natural sources of air pollution are volcanoes (during strong eruptions), desert sand, geysers, swamp gases, the surface oceans (carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorides), forest fires, etc.
Natural sources emit more particles, but they are also anthropogenic and deposited in the pulmonary and bronchial regions. The smaller the particle dimensions are they penetrate deeper into the respiratory organs. They stay in the air longer, too. Therefore, their harmful effect on health is more pronounced.
Tyes of particles in the polluted air
All pollutants in the air, concerning physical characteristics, can be divided into two large groups:
- particles (dust, vapor, fog, and smoke)
- gases (gases and vapors )
Mass and particle composition are the properties based on which particles are divided into:
- coarse (large) – larger than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter and usually contain particles earth, dust from roads or industry;
- fine particles – less than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter and usually contain the most common secondary formations aerosols generated by the conversion of gases into particles, then combustion particles, motor vehicle exhaust gases.
- ultrafine particles – less than 0.1 µm
Causes of Aero Pollution
Air pollution is always a topical issue, given that a relatively small area concentrates a large number of different sources of pollution: energy sources, traffic, and industry.
The air contains primary pollutants are:
- sulfur dioxide,
- nitrogen oxides,
- carbon monoxide, and soot particles,
- specific pollutants depending on the industrial processes in the area.
The content of pollutants in the atmosphere varies depending on the season. During the winter months, we have significantly higher concentrations of sulfur dioxide and soot. This is a result of increased energy consumption, i.e., the use of poor-quality coal.
In most first-world countries, this problem is solved by switching to natural gas. The energy sources, thermal power plants, and home heating systems are the cause of 30% of total air pollution.
The impact of air pollution on human health, especially during acute exposure in episodes of high concentrations, has been proven and undoubted, and yet there are different opinions on the magnitude of that impact.
The main difficulties in researching the impact on health are:
- the presence of a mixture of pollutants in the air
- possible presence of unknown substances
- transformations of primary pollutants into far more toxic secondary pollutants
- long latency period for toxicity of most pollutants makes it difficult to connect with the response of organisms
According to research by the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), 1% of lung cancers are associated with air pollution.
Consequences of Aero Pollution
Acute action of polluted air implies exposure of the organism to more concentrations of pollutants in a shorter period. The most expressive indicators are catastrophes in which it occurred to the suffering of a large number of inhabitants in the industrial centers, located in the river valley (Mense in Belgium in 1930, Donors in Pennsylvania in 1948. year, Rosa Rica in Mexico in 1950, London in 1952, 1956 and 1992).
For example, in London, from December 5-9, 1952, the concentrations of sulfur dioxide and soot were above the limit values, and the fog was extremely dense. Thousands of people died in this incident. Some died due to direct impact “Winter smog” (London type), some of the new diseases (bronchitis, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema), and some due to the worsening of existing chronic respiratory diseases (tuberculosis, lung cancer, asthma) or due to exacerbation of chronic heart disease.
Chronic exposure to polluted air implies long-term exposure to pollutants whose concentrations are lower than the limit values. The mechanism of action of air pollutants is complex. They can work differently, depending on the chemical composition as:
- irritants- sulfur dioxide and trioxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, aerosols
- asphyxiators- carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, methane
- allergens pollen sneezing, asthma, bronchitis
- carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic.
People’s response to air pollution is not specific and varies significantly. The population is without any problems, and part with symptoms of varying intensity, from the mildest to clinically very pronounced.
Some of the solutions are:
- Mixed and bicycle networks make pedestrians or bicycle safer and more accessible, preventing vehicle pollution, traffic injuries and promoting better health through physical activity.
- Moving people to more efficient modes of transport, including high-speed bus transit, light rail, and other forms of shared transport dramatically reduce air pollution by reducing the use of private vehicles and emissions.
- Raising emission standards for all vehicles takes heavy pollutants off the road and puts pressure on the market for cleaner vehicles and innovations for cleaner technologies. Reducing high-sulfur fuels in many developing countries is a significant first step.
And for your home, an air purifier can be handy. A quality air purifier is a small investment for such an important factor in our lives. A man without air can do a few minutes, without water for a few days, and without food for a few weeks. Read more 4-types-of-good-air-purifiers-pros-and-cons.