- Do you know what causes air pollution?
It’s like you walk outside, ready for a deep breath of fresh air and boom, all you smell is smoke. Air pollution. The United States isn’t the only country dealing with wildfire smoke and more. The worst air pollution has really been bothering us and these are the 10 main causes.
Climate change and wildfires have gotten worse over the years as well as things like burning stubble and farm residue which also contribute to wildfires. These fires increase PM2.5 in the air which mixes with things like chemical gas and pollen, and creates smog. Smog creates hazy and hard to breath air. Smog can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, and cause itchiness in your respiratory tract, all symptoms of inhaling smog.
There’s more traffic on the road today than ever and vehicle pollution is one of the biggest and worst air pollution contaminants. Burning gas from vehicles emits the pollutants into the air, as harmful as smoking 10 cigarettes a day. Along with gas fumes, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) are also released from vehicles. The more congested an area is with vehicle traffic, the worst the air quality is.
Chemical and Synthetic Products
Household products cause air pollution indoors which is 10 times more harmful than outdoor air pollution. With an average of 90% of our time spent outside, it makes sense that indoor air pollutants impact us more seriously. VOCs found in paints, cleaner and personal care products such as deodorants and perfumes are reasons for common health issues. These silent killers can raise risks for asthmatic people or those with other respiratory issues including lung disease. These indoor air pollutants release harmful toxins that affect children, old age people and pets. These sources include hobby crafting, paints, furniture, cooking, smoking furnaces powered heaters and many more. Indoor air pollution causes over 4 million premature deaths per year, over 50% of respiratory infections in children less than 5 and various lung and heart diseases in children and older adults like bronchitis, pneumonia and aggravation of asthma.
Pollution from industry emits particulate matter 2.5 and 10, NO2, SO2 and CO that use coal and wood as their primary energy source. These pollutants can cause irritation to your eyes and throat, breathing issues, at times lead to chronic illness, aggregate respiratory disorders like asthma and bronchitis and O3 can increase asthma attacks.
Open Waste Burning
Delhi air pollution is absolutely awful for public health and the city generates 9,500 tons of waste a day, making it India’s second waste dumping city. Air pollution from open garbage burning can pose serious health risks including cancer, liver issues, immune system impairment, reduced reproductive functions and development of the nervous system. Toxins released with open waste burning include black carbon, soot, and carcinogens.
Demolition and Construction
Air quality related to construction and demolition sites are a concern because of the PM and other air pollutants including VOCs. People that live near these sites can experience various health concerns including difficulty in breathing and irritation to nose, eyes, and throat. Workers on site are exposed to these air pollutants everyday and are bad for their health as well. Construction and demolition sites need to comply with standards to keep the air as clean as possible.
Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution is caused by the use of toxic products or VOCs. Other variables like poor ventilation, uneven temperature and humidity can add to indoor air pollution. Smoking inside or leaving mild-infected walls untreated can also add to this problem. Carcinogens and toxins from indoor air pollution cause 17% of deaths from lung cancer.
It all starts with pesticides and fertilizers, the main source of contaminating the surrounding air. Newer pesticides and fertilizers are also now mixed with new invasive species not found in nature, as they produce quick growth for the crops and vegetation. After being sprayed, the effects of the pesticides are left in the air. When water is mixed in, the chemicals seep into the ground, not only destroying the crops but also causing health-related issues.
So after all this, what can we do? The best things we can do is conserve energy as the first step towards a better future and cleaner air to breathe. We should educate ourselves so we understand the concept of reducing, reusing and recycling. And lastly, we should use public transport whenever possible, to save fuel and reduce vehicle pollution.