What is Air Pollution?
Air pollution is defined as the contamination of air by specific substances such as dust, smoke, poisonous gases, and fumes from exhaust of vehicles etc that are highly toxic in nature and bring down the quality of air in the atmosphere.
The contamination of air in the atmosphere by these toxic chemical substances creates air to be unfit for breathing and creates breathing troubles and disorders in humans and animals.
Plant life is affected too. On the whole, life on earth is affected to a large extent by air pollution and it can have disastrous effects on sustaining life on earth.
While walking on the sides of a busy city road, you must’ve thought of how heavy the air feels, how pungent and unpleasant it is, compared to the rural atmosphere.
You must’ve cursed the cars and the traffic for the smoke they create.
If you think carefully enough, you would notice the tiny things we do, like letting out too much fumes from the exhaust of our vehicles can cause air pollution. It compels us to make specific changes in our lifestyle.
Causes of air pollution
The factories and industries we know are major contributors to polluting the air and letting out toxic gases into the atmosphere.
But we should also realize that even our own actions can contribute to air pollution. Everything we do, from the moment we wake up, till the time we go to sleep, the numerous activities that we carry out can contribute to pollution.
There are certain substances, which when released into the environment, can cause great harm to the ecosystem. These toxic substances are called pollutants.
Pollution occurs when these pollutants are introduced into the ecosystem, either through man made ways or naturally.
Pollution has been ever rampant since the industrial ages. Basically, ever since man discovered that he could burn substances for energy, for e.g. coal, he began to contribute to Pollution.
But in the earlier days, the pollutants weren’t as toxic as they are today. Today the concentration levels in the toxic elements has increased to such a high level, that they have become very poisonous and life-risking.
Some of these substances could be highly toxic, for humans as well as the environment. Air pollution is when these pollutants are introduced into the air.
Air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide etc.
These are released from the burning of various forms of fuel and energy sources. Vehicles burn petrol and diesel in their engines and release carbon monoxide gas, carbon dioxide, ash and other harmful substances.
Factories are a major source of air pollution too. The toxic gases that are released from the chimneys of factories go unchecked and contaminate the air in the surroundings.
Daily activities in the factories contribute to tonnes of such harmful gases being let out from their outlets and create a very harmful scenario for the lives living in and around the factory establishments.
Through the various processes carried out in the manufacturing and refining departments, a large quantity and variety of pollutants are let into the atmosphere.
These may include several forms of nitrides, sulphides, oxides and carbides.
Effects of air pollution
Air Pollution is a major concern in today’s world. It has had a wide spread effect on life and brings down the green cover on this planet.
The use of CFCs, chlorofluoro carbons, has left a gaping hole in the atmospheric ozone layer. A single chlorine molecule can kill thousands of ozone particles.
As we know, the ozone layer protects the earth from the harmful radiation received from the sun and the cosmos.
Thus, large-scale efforts were carried out, to stop the use of products that emit CFC gases. Air Pollution has also given rise to one of today’s most dire events, the Global Warming.
The emissions from various sources have increased the volume of gases that constitute the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
This in turn, has led to more heat being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. If the current situation doesn’t improve, it is speculated that the temperatures could rise steadily in the next few years.
This would result in the melting of icebergs at the Poles, eventually raising the sea level by a great extent. The coastal regions would be completely submerged with the sudden increase in the volume of sea water.
This, coupled with the rapid rate of deforestation, is lowering our chances of making the situation any better.
Solutions for air pollution
Mankind has realized its mistake. It has realized that the actions of mankind in the form of rampant urbanization, long scale deforestation and turning to upscale industrialization and modernization have, in the long run adversely affected the integrity of the environment.
Governments have started to take initiatives into making the world a better place to live, by conducting several drives and events.
The future generation needs trees to survive, to breathe air that is fit for breathing, to create greenery in their surroundings.
Hence, man was compelled to leave his selfish attributes behind and think of co-existence with other living creatures in and around him, to develop a sustainable future for the generations to come and also peacefully establish a happy living for him too, in the long run.
Strict regulations are being set inside factories and industrial establishments regarding their emission policies.
Research on making better and more fuel efficient automobile engines have been undergoing rapidly than ever before. We already have several vehicles that run on non-conventional fuels, like electricity, solar power etc.
India recently came up with its first solar powered train, which is a major advancement on the path to cleaner means of transport.
Tree plantation drives have been undertaken on a wide scale in many regions of our country. A recent event in Kerala, India created history by being the largest tree plantation drive ever.
Chimneys and outlet ports of factories and industries have to be raised such that the toxic gases escape higher up into the atmosphere.
This may prove to be less damaging to the environment in the long run. Regular checks on factory establishments have to be carried out in order to check the efficiency level of their working, such that they don’t contribute much to the already heavy concentrations of toxic elements in the air.
Air filters in chimneys are also being administered in industrial establishments to trap poisonous elements present in air at the outlet of chimneys.
This helps reduce the passage of toxic air into the atmosphere to a certain extent.
It all boils down to our concern for the environment, and how we want to make changes to the methods we use.
We all must try to make tiny changes in the way we live, so that even on a tiny scale, we contribute towards the preservation of the planet that we live in.
Nature has offered so much to man to lead a happy and peaceful life on earth.
But man has exploited nature beyond its boundaries and caused so much damage to it, that it’s now compelling us to reverse the effects of the damage thus caused.
We can certainly work our ways in reducing air pollution by undertaking proper and scientific measures.
We ought to realize the death-triggering effects of air pollution and think of innovative ways to clean and green our surroundings.