Air pollution can be defined as an alteration of air quality that can be characterized by measurements of chemical, biological or physical pollutants in the air. Therefore, air pollution means the undesirable presence of impurities or the abnormal rise in the proportion of some constituents of the atmosphere. It can be classified in 2 sections: visible and invisible air pollution.
Clean air' is air that has no harmful levels of pollutants in it and is safe to breathe. Air is an essential element in human survival, and the fact that this air is pure is an exponential benefit to that survival. For the best quality of life, the air that we breath must be the purest as possible because air nourishes with oxygen the lungs, the blood and, consequently, the rest of the organs. Surprisingly, indoor air is five to ten times worse than outdoor air, according to several WHO studies, even in urban areas.
Among the pollutants found inside homes, offices, restaurants and leisure facilities we can number: carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, Sulphur dioxide, ozone, household chemicals (from hygiene to cosmetics), nitrogen oxides, radon and tobacco smoke. In addition to fungi, mold, viruses, bacteria or animal hair. All these air pollutants are harmful to health and can also cause allergies that affect the respiratory tract.
Tobacco is the biggest indoor pollutant
Another issue affecting air quality is humidity and temperature. When both environmental factors are very high, the air is of lesser quality, posing a greater risk to health as organisms such as viruses, fungi and molds can proliferate.
Air quality is a fundamental right is already legislated and included in various regulations that apply to new constructions, workplaces, etc. The benefits of breathing quality air are so extensive that they range from a higher quality of life, which translates into a longer life, to more productivity at work; as well as improving sleep, providing quality in rest, reduction of sick leave and, in general, greater comfort. We require clean air for healthy living.
Smog, soot, greenhouse gases, and other top air pollutants are affecting the planet and everyone's health.
"Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants which are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe. Nine out of ten human beings currently breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s guideline limits for pollutants, with those living in low- and middle-income countries suffering the most. In the United States, the Clean Air Act, established in 1970, authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard public health by regulating the emissions of these harmful air pollutants."
“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project, part of the Climate and Clean Energy program at NRDC. “Burning fossil fuels releases gases and chemicals into the air.” And in an especially destructive feedback loop, air pollution not only contributes to climate change but is also exacerbated by it. “Air pollution in the form of carbon dioxide and methane raises the earth’s temperature,” Walke says. “Another type of air pollution, smog, is then worsened by that increased heat, forming when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation.”
Climate change also increases the production of allergenic air pollutants, including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season).
Smog and soot are the two most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog (sometimes referred to as ground-level ozone) occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot (also known as particulate matter) is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens—in the form of either gas or solids—that are carried in the air. The sources of smog and soot are similar. Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines, generally anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gas, or natural gas.
Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs. These extra pollutants can intensify symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. The tiniest airborne particles in soot, whether gaseous or solid, are especially dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death.
Because highways and polluting facilities have historically been sited in or next to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, the negative effects of this pollution have been disproportionately experienced by the people who live in these communities.
Hazardous air pollutants
A number of air pollutants pose severe health risks and can sometimes be fatal even in small amounts. Almost 200 of them are regulated by law; some of the most common are mercury, lead, dioxins, and benzene. These are also most often emitted during gas or coal combustion, incinerating, or—in the case of benzene—found in gasoline. Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in small amounts in the air, can affect the liver in the short term and harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems as well as reproductive functions. Mercury attacks the central nervous system. In large amounts, lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even minimal exposure can affect children’s IQ and ability to learn. Another category of toxic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are by-products of traffic exhaust and wildfire smoke. In large amounts they have been linked to eye and lung irritation, blood and liver issues, and even cancer. In one study, the children of mothers exposed to PAHs during pregnancy showed slower brain-processing speeds and more pronounced symptoms of ADHD.
By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures, which in turn lead to the hallmarks of climate change: rising sea levels, more extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and the increased transmission of infectious diseases.
Pollen and mold
Mold and allergens from trees, weeds, and grass are also carried in the air, are exacerbated by climate change, and can be hazardous to health. Though they aren’t regulated and are less directly connected to human actions, they can be considered a form of air pollution.
Pollen allergies are worsening because of climate change.
Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for early death. The best, most effective way to control air pollution is to speed up our transition to cleaner fuels and industrial processes. By switching over to renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar power), maximizing fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and replacing more and more of our gasoline-powered cars and trucks with electric versions, we'll be limiting air pollution at its source while also curbing the global warming that heightens so many of its worst health impacts.
When we have the conversation about pollution be it air, water and or soil. We have to talk about air pollution locally, by region and also globally.
Local: this concerns the quality of ambient air within a radius of a few kilometers
Regional: pollution like acid rain, photochemical reactions and degradation of water quality at distances of a few kilometers to a thousand kilometers
Global: depletion of the ozone layer and global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2)
Ecosystems help regulate climate. A thriving ecosystem is dependent on healthy soil, which supports and maintains diversity of life on earth. Today, because our soils are being damaged by human activities, we are dangerously close to disrupting the delicate balance that sustains life. Healthy soil performs many essential ecosystem functions like : provides a medium for […]
Water is very important to the human body. Every one of your cells, organs and tissues use water to help with temperature regulation, keeping hydrated and maintaining bodily functions. In addition, water acts as a lubricant and cushions your joints. Drinking water is great for your overall health. Every living being on this planet requires water. […]
PROTECT HABITAT To Save Species It is probably one of the most important things to do and that is to protect habitat. Habitat defined is the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism. Losing habitat means losing animals, plants and organisms that are dependent on an environment best suited to their […]