What is Air Pollution?

Watching beautiful sunsets can raise the question of “what is air pollution” by you and others. Sometimes it’s as simple as dust and smoke blown in from surrounding areas, but most of the time it’s a mixture of particulates and gasses created by our lifestyle. Our lifestyle includes industry, transportation, and energy consumption to live and work comfortably. Air pollution is omnipresent, being both indoors and out. Clean air can be had by changing your consumption habits and by using air purifiers and air filters.

Many people hear about air pollution, but don’t know much about it. What is air pollution? It is when the air is filled with contaminants, both gas and particulate, that can cause health problems and environmental issues. Air pollution is not confined to just outside air though, it is even more prevalent in indoor spaces. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor pollution levels are even higher than the pollution levels in outside air in most cases. That is why it is important to learn more about indoor and outdoor air pollution so that you can help to keep yourself, your family, and the environment a little bit safer and healthier.

Air pollution is made up of many different pollutants from many different sources. Learning about these pollutants and their sources will enable you to become more aware of how you are hurting the environment and your health and will help you to learn how to decrease the contaminants in the air in your home and outside.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Common outdoor air pollution contaminants are particulate matter. This is very small particles of material that float in the air. They can be caused by the burning of fuels, like diesel, coal and wood, or can be released by industries or automobile exhaust. These particulates are also sometimes known as “black carbon pollution”. Even sand picked up by wind storms contributes to air pollution, sometimes in areas far from the source.
Other contaminants that help to add to the air pollution are noxious gases. Many of these gases are naturally occurring in the atmosphere, but more is being released by industry, automobiles, and manufacturing. These gases include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and various chemical vapors. Once these gases get into the atmosphere they can have a chemical reaction with each other and this is when smog and acid rain are created, which harms plants and animals in the environment, as well as the air.

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor pollution is a hot button topic for many people. This pollution is causing severe health concerns for many people, but it has been found to be a leading contributor to the increase of allergies and asthma in children as young as infants. The reason this pollution is so prevalent is because of the petroleum-based furnishings and finishes people have in their homes. With the large amount of time that people spend indoors, this can be a health risk. Many air quality experts estimate that most people spend between 80-90% of their time indoors, whether it is in their home, business, shopping and entertainment.
Indoor air pollution includes dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, off-gassing from paint, furniture, appliances, finishes, and by-products from cooking. These contaminants in small amounts may not make much of a health impact, but due to homes being built so airtight these contaminants build up until they become a trigger for allergy or asthma attacks in people that are susceptible. This is why many people turn to using an air purifier in their home, especially if they suffer from allergies or allergy-induced asthma.

Knowledge Is Crucial

Pollution is not just an outside problem. It is important for everyone to learn what air pollution is, both indoors and outdoors, why it’s a problem, and how to prevent it. Anything you do to decrease air pollution in your area of the world makes a difference. Become more knowledgeable and proactive so that you can make a difference that will benefit you, your community, and future generations.

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