Thinking about air pollution causes will help you figure out ways to clean your surroundings. Pollution is a fairly simple response to “abundant living”, so fairly simple changes can help clean the air we breathe. Not knowing or understanding the balance of nature also contributes to air pollution. Trees and other plants help clean air and maintain the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, so removing vegetation contributes to the problem. Burning too many fuels adds particulates and fumes that hurt us, and reduce our views and natural balance.
Air pollution is a serious problem around the world. You would think that with all of our knowledge in the western world, we would be able to eradicate this problem. But the problem is bigger than we think and it’s virtually impossible to completely remove pollution from all of the air that you breathe.
The average adult breathes 3,000 gallons of air into their lungs each day and children breathe even more air into their lungs and, unfortunately, air pollution is omnipresent. There is no escaping it, even in small towns or remote locations. The best thing that you can do for your lungs and health is to learn more about pollution, the causes of air pollution, and how to prevent air pollution.
The amount of air pollution outdoors has decreased significantly over the last 20 years. Much of the decrease can be attributed to newer model cars and governmental regulations on manufacturing and industry. The increase in alternative fuels has also helped decrease outdoor air pollution. This is all great news, but there is still some work to be done. What exactly is floating around in the air that you breathe?
There are two different classes of pollutants that cause air pollution. The first are manmade causes, and the second are natural causes. Manmade air pollution causes include transportation, fuel combustion, and coal burning power plants. Natural air pollution causes include dust from dry areas, volcanic activity, wildfires, and pollens. Each of these air pollutants give off a gas or other particulates that get into the air and can cause breathing problems.
One of the major pollutants that is released into the air is carbon dioxide. While this is a naturally occurring substance in the atmosphere, it is significantly increased due to combustion (of fossil fuels, wood and other things) and deforestation. This increase causes the air to have a high enough amount of carbon dioxide that it becomes a problem. The carbon dioxide is a major contributor to an environmental problem called the “greenhouse effect”.
Two other pollutants are nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. Both of these are naturally occurring in the atmosphere, but again are increased by fossil fuel burning. This increase of nitrogen oxide contributes to the development of acid rain and smog. The increase of nitrogen dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect.
Sulfur is put into the atmosphere through the burning of coal and fuel oils, among other things. The sulfur oxides can cause problems for people, animals, and plants. In large amounts it is very irritating to the upper respiratory tract of people and can even cause constricting of the lungs. Sulfur contributes to the environmental problem, acid rain.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are contributing to the decrease of ozone in the atmosphere. CFCs are given off from aerosol cans, leaking refrigeration and cooling units, and the burning of foam products. While CFC’s have been banned for years in most countries, they last for up to 111 years in the atmosphere and are still contributing to environmental issues such as the greenhouse effect and smog.
Smog, acid rain, and the greenhouse effect are all environmental problems that impact the people of the Earth, animals, plants, and the air. Finding ways to help prevent the release of these substances into the air is the only way that we can make the air cleaner for future generations. A few ways you can help the environment is buying and driving your car wisely, making your home more energy efficient, recycling, planting trees and other plants, and refraining from buying or using Styrofoam products.
With just a little extra effort, we each can have a part in making the Earth a better place to live, and breathing easier on the body.