A lot of people do not realize how vital clean air really is. Agreed, there is no global standard for fresh air, and the definitions can vary. Still, nobody can deny the fact that the air quality is dependent on emissions from local regulation, traffic exhaust, industries nearby, and so on. What is even more alarming is the fact that the air indoors can be 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside, as reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Studies have shown time and time again, clean air will contribute to your well-being and health. To make this possible, indoors at least, you can check out some of the best air purifiers. However, if you are not convinced, and want to find out more about the importance of keeping the air clean, then the following reasons will give you all the information you need to change your mind.
What is Air Pollution
The term pollution is commonly used, and there are many different types, with air pollution being one of them. Air pollution refers to air contamination, irrespective of outdoors or indoors. A chemical, biological, or physical adaptation to the air can be simply called polluted air. It mostly occurs when harmful smoke, dust, gases escape into the atmosphere, making it difficult for humans, plants, and animals to survive.
Air pollution can be further divided into two categories, i.e., visible and obscure air pollution. Another way to look at air pollution could be identifying substances that negatively affect the atmosphere and/or the living beings that are a part of it.
The Lack of Clean Air is a Growing Concern
Nothing is more important to live than breathing to enjoy the perks of life. To put things into perspective, a human being breathes 250 million liters of air in their lifetime. But while walking through a busy street, or any other similar situation, a human being will inhale a staggering 20 million particles or so in a lungful.
Simply put, toxic air has now become such an environmental risk that it is responsible for early death. Basically, one in nine deaths is caused by toxic air. 7 million people die from the poisonous atmosphere every year, which is far higher than the number of deaths caused by malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined!
Only those people will enjoy the perks, who care about the future – air pollution is a global health emergency, and it must be put to an end before it is too late.
The Lack of Clean Air is Costly
People generally do not think about the costs associated with the lack of clean air. It has a much more significant impact as the ill health caused and lost lives become a tremendous economic burden. In 2013, it resulted in lost labor income of $225 billion, and since then, the numbers have continued to rise. When welfare losses are also factored in, things only get worse.
Air pollution may be getting better in some developed nations, but it is getting worse for the developing world. Dirty air has been around for centuries, and humanity had learned to live with it, but it has become a much bigger problem now in recent decades. The damage caused to health has only now become clear. In contrast, the crisis has received much-needed attention thanks in part due to government legal defeats, research revelations, and the infamous Volkswagen scandal.
Fortunately, despite the problems caused by air pollution, there is a silver lining. By taking appropriate action to cut down air pollution, there are immediate benefits to look forward to, for instance, it helps in fighting climate change in the long term.
Causes of Air Pollution
Pollutants are of two kinds, primary and secondary. Pollutants that directly cause air pollution are referred to as primary pollutants. While secondary pollutants are the result of interactions between several significant pollutants. These divisions are made to better understand air pollution and their various causes, which are as follows:
Agriculture-related things result in ammonia, which is one of the most harmful gases to be released into the atmosphere. This is only getting more problematic with the increased usage of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. They cause air pollution and water pollution as well.
The combustion of fossil fuels like petroleum and coal will result in sulfur dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Pollution emitted from automobiles, public transportation, and airplanes cause polluted atmosphere, and their overuse is taking a toll on the environment.
The process of mining involves the extraction of minerals from below the surface of the earth. This is made possible via large equipment. During the procedure, chemicals and dust are released in the air, which should explain why workers and residents nearby such quarries suffer from deteriorating health conditions.
Indoor Air Pollution
Painting supplies and domestic cleaning products release contaminated substances in the air, causing air pollution. As soon as you paint your house, you may have noticed how difficult it becomes to breathe. That is what is released into the atmosphere, commonly referred to as SPM (Suspended Particulate Matter).
Understanding the Disastrous Effects of Air Pollution
When fossil fuels are burnt, they release harmful sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. So when it rains, the water droplets become acidic due to said air pollutants, thus forming acid rain. Acid rain can do a great deal of damage to crops, animals, and humans.
The alterations the world is witnessing is due to global warming, a direct effect of air pollution. As temperatures increase around the globe, it will cause the ice in colder regions to melt, thus raising sea levels. This has already taken a toll on several natural habitats, signaling a disaster in the making if precautionary measures are not taken soon.
Negative Effect on Wildlife
Similar to humans, animals, too, have to face the devastating effects associated with air pollution. Air pollutants and toxic chemicals in the air can force wildlife species to change their environment and move to a new place. The very same poisonous substances can also deposit on water surfaces and can affect sea animals as well.
Damage to the Ozone Layer
The ozone layer is responsible for protecting humans from the harmful rays of the sun. The UV rays from the sun are already entering the atmosphere since the ozone layer is thinning. The reason for thinning is that hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons present in the atmosphere. The harmful UV rays entering the atmosphere can cause eye and skin related problems. They are also capable of damaging crops.
The term eutrophication refers to the process of algae creation on the sea’s surface due to a high amount of nitrogen being present in some pollutants. The alga that forms on the sea’s surface affects fish and plants alike. Eutrophication is the reason why you see green colored algae on ponds and lakes.
Keeping the Air Clean
Reduce energy consumption when not required. For instance, you can switch off any fans or lifts before heading out. Since a lot of fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity, you can play your part in reducing air pollution by conserving as much energy as you possibly can.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Even if something is of no use to you, do not throw it away immediately. Try to reuse such stuff for other purposes. For instance, you can use old boxes to store clothes or other items you may need later on.
Usage of Clean Energy Resources
Clean energy resources like geothermal, wind, and solar should be the only way to go. They are in quite the demand these days, as governments in numerous countries have been giving their citizens grants and subsidies to use these clean energy resources instead. This move alone will go a long way to defeat air pollution.
Usage of Public Mode of Transportation
More and more people need to use a public mode of transportation to reduce air pollution. Carpooling is another great way to make this possible. If a group of people travels from and to the same locality, they can explore this option, which will not only reduce air pollution but save them money as well.
Usage of Energy Efficient Devices
What is interesting about CFL lights is that they consume much less electricity than their counterparts. They also tend to last longer. So you will consume less energy and help reduce air pollution, which is a win-win, to say the least. Consider using similar energy-efficient devices to play your part in reducing air pollution.
We hope you have a better understanding of the lack of clean air and how it is a growing concern, and also the costs associated with it. You also have a thorough knowledge of the disastrous effects of air pollution, its causes, and how you can do your part in reducing air pollution. The information provided above, in its totality, should make you realize how important clean air really is.
If things remain unchanged, and air pollution continues to grow, this planet will become uninhabitable for animals, plants, and humans. With this realization, you and others around you can take the necessary steps to slow down the process for air pollution, eventually finding grounds to eradicate it once and for all. Until then, people need to be made aware of the importance of clean air for them to fight for it to ensure the survival of the human race and the numerous other species of animals and plants that reside on planet earth. It is the responsibility of each and every human being living on this planet to keep it clean to sustain and for the further generations to survive.