Air Pollution Definition, Causes and Effects

air pollution definition

Air pollution refers to any physical, chemical, or biological change in the quality of air. It refers to the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust, and smoke. Air pollution affects plants, animals, and humans, drastically causing grievous health hazards. There is a certain percentage of each gas present in the atmosphere. Any change in the composition of the gases which make up the atmosphere is harmful to animal and plant survival. This change in the gaseous composition has resulted in an increase in the earth’s temperature, which is known as global warming.

Air Pollution Definition

A factory with smoke coming out of it

Air pollution definition goes as any physical, biological or chemical change in the quality of air. It basically refers to contamination of air by manmade or natural sources. 

Types of Air Pollutants

A factory with smoke coming out of it

There are two types of air pollutants:

  1. Primary Pollutants: The pollutants that directly affect the air quality causing pollution are known as primary pollutants. For example, sulfur dioxide emitted from factories is a primary pollutant.
  2. Secondary Pollutants: The pollutants which are formed by the reaction of primary pollutants are known as secondary pollutants. For example, smog is formed by the intermingling of smoke and fog. Smog acts as a secondary pollutant.

Factors That Cause Air Pollution

  • Burning Fossil Fuels: The combustion of Fossil fuels gives out an enormous amount of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other toxins, which contribute to air pollution.
  • Automobiles: The gases emitted from automobiles pollute the environment. These are the major sources of greenhouse gases that result in global warming and also cause diseases among individuals.
  • Factories and Industries: Factories and industries are a major contributor to carbon monoxide, organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and other harmful chemicals. These are released into the air resulting in pollution.
  • Mining Activities: In the mining process, dust and chemicals are released, which not only pollute the air but also deteriorate the health of the workers.
  • Domestic Sources: The household cleaning products and paints contain toxic chemicals that are released into the air, causing pollution. Some households also use a stove for cooking or may have chimneys which add to the pollution. 

Effects of Air Pollution

  • Diseases: Air pollution results in several chronic respiratory disorders and heart diseases in humans. The cases of lung cancer have increased in the last few decades owing to the increased levels of air pollution. It is seen that the children living near polluted areas are more prone to pneumonia and asthma. Quite a number of people die every year due to the direct or indirect effects of air pollution.
  • Global Warming: Greenhouse gases have created an imbalance in the gaseous composition of the air that has led to an increase in the temperature of the earth. This phenomenon is known as global warming and has resulted in the melting of glaciers and, in turn, increasing sea levels. Many coastal areas are submerged underwater.
  • Ozone Layer Depletion: The release of chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere has led to the depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone layer is responsible for protecting us against the harmful rays of the sun. In its absence, harmful ultraviolet rays coming from the sun reach the earth and cause skin diseases and eye problems among individuals.
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