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The increasing rate of air pollution

Pollution became a common term that we hear.

air pollution

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 Sep 2022 5:08 AM GMT

Chandini Bharadwaj


Pollution became a common term that we hear. We hear about various forms of pollution every day and read about it through the mass media. Air pollution is one such form that refers to the contamination of the air, irrespective of indoors or outside.

A physical, biological or chemical alteration to the air in the atmosphere can be termed pollution. It occurs when any harmful gases, dust, or smoke enter the atmosphere and makes it difficult for plants, animals, and humans to survive as the air becomes dirty.

Another way of looking at air pollution could be any substance that holds the potential to hinder the atmosphere or the well-being of the living beings surviving in it.

The maintenance of all things living is due to a combination of gases that collectively form the atmosphere; the imbalance caused by the increase or decrease in the percentage of these gases can be harmful to survival.

The Ozone layer considered crucial for the existence of the ecosystem on the planet is depleted due to increased pollution. Global warming, a direct result of the increased imbalance of gases in the atmosphere, has come to be known as the biggest threat and challenge that the contemporary world has to overcome in the bid for survival.

Pollution is defined as the introduction into the environment of substances harmful to humans and other living organisms. Pollutants are harmful solids, liquids, or gases produced in higher than usual concentrations that reduce the quality of our environment.

Human activities harm the environment by polluting the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the soil on which plants grow. Although the industrial revolution was a great success in terms of technology, society, and the provision of multiple services, it also introduced the production of huge quantities of pollutants emitted into the air that are harmful to human health. Without any doubt, global environmental pollution is considered an international public health issue with multiple facets. Social, economic, and legislative concerns and lifestyle habits are related to this major problem. Urbanization and industrialization are reaching unprecedented and upsetting proportions worldwide in our era. Anthropogenic air pollution is one of the biggest public health hazards worldwide.

Toxic air is now the biggest environmental risk of early death, responsible for one in nine of all fatalities. It kills 7 million people a year, far more than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined, for example. Dr Maria Neira, the World Health Organization Director with responsibility for air pollution, is blunt: "It is a global public health emergency."

Air pollution is getting worse in the developing world and, while it is getting better in some developed nations, our knowledge of how comprehensively it damages our bodies and minds is growing even faster. Dirty air has been with us for centuries – previously, we simply lived with it – and no one has yet had air pollution as a cause of death on their death certificate. It is only in recent decades that the damage to health has become clear, and in recent years that the health crisis has received widespread attention.

Who does it affect?

Almost everyone. Over 90% of the world's population lives in places where air pollution is above WHO guidelines. It is the worst in South and East Asia, where most of humanity lives, with traffic, dirty industry and the open burning of waste delivering a triple effect.

India has almost half of the top 50 most polluted cities in the world, China has eight and Iran has three. Africa is highly polluted but a little measured: in 2015 Paris had three times more monitoring stations than the entire continent.

Different types of air pollution

The most damaging but best understood are tiny particles. These not only damage the lungs but enter the bloodstream. They are increasingly thought to enter vital organs, including the brain and have been shown the reach the liver, spleen, kidneys and testes in lab animals. The particles can be made of black carbon, nitrates, sulphates, ammonia or mineral dust. Most are produced by burning fossil fuels or wood, for driving, heating, power plants and industry.

While improvements have been made in some countries, for example, to coal-fired power stations and cars, other sources have lagged. Farming is one such source of pollution, with ammonia from livestock manure and fertilizers blowing into cities and forming particles, particularly in the springtime when crops are sown and muck is spread.

Nitrogen dioxide, produced by diesel vehicles, not only forms particles but is now known to cause harm when breathed as a gas. Other pollutants include sulphur dioxide, which is usually stripped out of vehicle fuels but still very high in ship and aviation fuels. Ground-level ozone, which forms on sunny days, harms not only people but also crops: 7-12% of the global wheat crop is estimated to be lost. In India, crop yields are reduced by 28% by ozone.

There are some natural sources of outdoor air pollution, such as dust storms and smoke from forest fires, but human-caused pollution far exceeds these. Outdoor air pollution causes 4.2 million early deaths, according to the WHO.

What harm does air pollution do?

Progressively, it is more relevant to ask what damage airs pollution does not do. Research is presently connecting polluted air not exclusively to pretty much all aspects of the body, yet in addition to the brain.

The risks of harmful air are a shockingly late revelation. The milestone research connected air pollution to lung disease, respiratory failures and strokes etc. The examination of infants and kids is especially stressful. An enormous ongoing review found poisonous air essentially expands the gamble of low birth weight, prompting deep-rooted harm to wellbeing. The specialists included called this seeing as alone 'something moving toward a general wellbeing calamity'.

Millions of premature births may be linked to air pollution; another study makes the connection to birth defects and another to cot deaths. The first direct evidence of pollution particles in mothers' placentas has also been revealed. "It is a worrying problem. There is a massive association between air pollution a mother breathes in and the effect it has on the foetus. As children grow, asthma and stunted lung growth are serious issues linked to air pollution, as is the ability to learn in school and the risk of teenage delinquency.

How to decrease

The solutions are simultaneously perfectly possible and incredibly hard because they require little new technology but involve action across many areas, and are usually neither politically palatable – yet – nor very profitable to implement.

Coal burning is declining globally and China has shown how industrial pollution can be rapidly curbed. Particle pollution is down by a third, just four years after a "war on pollution" was declared, and eight after Beijing's air was labelled "crazy bad" when pollution leapt off the charts. But cities around the world are expanding rapidly, with 4.2 billion urban dwellers set to swell to 6.7 billion by 2050.

We can discuss some points here.

* Use the Public Mode of Transportation.

Encourage people to use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce pollution. Also, try to make use of carpooling. If you and your colleagues come from the same locality and have the same timings, you can explore this option to save energy and money.

Better Household Practices

Discard fireplaces and/or wooden stoves used for heating homes. Use gas logs in place of wood. Also, eliminate the use of gas-powered lawns and gardening equipment. Avoid setting fire to garbage, dry leaves, or other materials in your yard, and lighting bonfires in the open. Try to mulch or compost your yard waste. Use cleaning products and paints that are environmentally friendly.

Conserve Energy

Switch off fans and lights when you are going out. A large number of fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. You can save the environment from degradation by reducing the number of fossil fuels to be burned.

Understand the Concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Do not throw away items that are of no use to you. Instead, reuse them for some other purpose. For example, you can use old jars to store cereals or pulses.

Emphasis on Clean Energy Resources

The use of clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal is on the rise these days. Governments of various countries have been providing grants to consumers who are interested in installing solar panels for their homes. Undoubtedly, this can go a long way to curb air pollution.

Use Energy-Efficient Devices

CFL lights consume less electricity than their counterparts. They live longer, consume less electricity, lead to lower electricity bills, and also help you to reduce pollution by consuming less energy. A few attempts are being made overall on private, modern, and legislative levels to control the force at which air contamination is rising and recapture an equilibrium, taking everything into account.

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