What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?

In this blog post, we will discuss “What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?” Firstly, we will discuss the basics of air pollution. Then, we will discuss the disadvantages of air pollution in brief. In addition, the article will outline the advantages of air pollution. In the end, the article will provide solutions to lessen air pollution.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?

As every coin has two sides, air pollution also has advantages and disadvantages. While the disadvantages of air pollution are well-known; it affects human health and the economy, air pollution benefits are surprising. The advantages of air pollution are as follows:

  • Boost to the production of precious gems and jewels
  • Manufacturing of carbon tiles for construction activities
  • Generation of carbon ink for artists
  • Production of sustainable plastic for shopping

Let’s first look at the basics of air pollution.

What is air pollution?

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

Now let’s discuss the disadvantages of air pollution.

What are the disadvantages of air pollution?

Air pollution has shaken the balance of our ecosystem. Since the stone age, humankind has always strived hard to achieve stability and comfort in their life. Finally, we succeeded, which led to the industrial revolution, followed by urbanization and much-needed changes in the lifestyle.

However, in the process of progression, somewhere we left behind the great values of nature, we forgot the support and symbiotic existence of the environment. While human inventions, no doubt, have always helped us to save our lives, it has also given birth to much inevitable stuff. One such thing is air pollution.

The ever-growing menace of air pollution has also created other challenges such as global warming, greenhouse effect and climate change. The increase in microscopic particles into the atmosphere has affected sunlight reaching the Earth surface. In fact, from 1950 to the 1980s, such phenomena were called global dimming. Air pollution also results in smog and haze conditions. Such events happen due to particulate pollution and ground-level ozone.

Humans have tremendously exploited natural resources such as fossil fuels in the constant chase of becoming the best in every term and during the development of energy and manufacturing sectors. But, unfortunately, such combustion of fossil fuels for various purposes such as transport and energy releases lots of toxic gaseous and solid contaminants such as carbon monoxide, noxious gases and particulate matter. Moreover, the burning of plastic also releases dioxins and other hazardous pollutants, contributing to poor air quality and harming human health.

The pollutants, especially particulate matter (PM2.5), can deeply penetrate your lungs, and through them, they can be dissolved into the bloodstream. Such a dissolving process can make your blood oxygen-depleted and result in various dangerous effects. While the short-term effects recover quickly and can be treatable, long-term effects take much more years. WHO has already declared particulate matter as a carcinogen. Air pollution can also weaken the immunity system.

Air pollution has also taken a toll on mental well-being. Severe deterioration in air quality can damage children and adults’ cognitive skills. It can also lead to depression. In addition, the researchers in the University of Michigan’s School of Natural resources and Environment have studied that air pollution can also affect children’s academic performance. Neuroinflammatory studies have also suggested that pollutants such as ground-level ozone and PM2.5 can significantly damage the neurovascular unit of humans.

The other impacts on human health are:

  •  Respiratory ailments: COPD, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, common cold and cough, throat infection, lung cancer, chest congestion, sinus congestion, etc. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases: Heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, heart blockage, stroke, etc. 
  • Mental disorders: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, low productivity, irritation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, brain stroke, paralysis, etc.

The other effects of air pollution are low sperm counts, low reproductive ability, infertility and congenital infant disabilities.

Besides, it can also affect the economy and artificial structures. Prolonged pollution exposure on human settlements and any historic structure can cause its degradation. For example, one of the air pollutants, soot, can get accumulated on the exterior walls of the buildings. The extended exposure to high levels of air pollution can also lead to corrosion of construction materials used. One of the classic examples is the magnificent Taj Mahal. Air pollution in acid rain has not even spared beautiful structures like the Taj Mahal. Acid rains have caused the marble-made Taj Mahal discolouration, making it turn yellowish in appearance.

Air pollution also creates a hindrance to the growth of the economy. For example, poor air quality makes you less productive at work. In addition, less visibility due to dust pollution affects the business’s logistics and supply chain management. Cities’ smog conditions can also lead to a one-day lockdown in the region. Finally, the contact of harmful pollutants with structures can lead to deterioration.

This can eventually lead to additional costs of restoration or demolition. In addition, fishing and agricultural communities can receive a lot of economic losses due to less productivity in crops and fish farming.

Let’s discuss the advantages of air pollution.

What are the advantages of air pollution?

This indeed is a bizarre question, but I recently found out that air pollution can turn into a boon if we tackle it properly. Surprisingly, there are also some benefits to natural resources.  Let’s find out all of them.

Diamond Jewelleries

Yes, you read it right. As mentioned earlier, smog conditions are worst and make you feel gloomy and suffocating, but Dutch artist Dan Roosegarde has a different vision of smog. In the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions, he shared that making precious jewels from smog is possible. He has started this project in Beijing, China. This city is often associated with smoggy skylines.

He firstly installed seven-metre tall towers which pull polluted air. It cleanses the air at the nano-level. Then, this clean air is released back into parks and playgrounds. Rosegarden further claimed that parks and gardens have 70-75% of fresher air than the rest of the city. Around 32% of Beijing’s smog primarily contains carbon. These towers filter carbon and turn into diamonds when this excess carbon is subjected to 30 minutes of pressure. Moreover, he further used the sale profit of this jewellery to install more such towers in China.

Ink for artists

Air pollution can supply infinite times of ink supply to all the artists worldwide. Even if it sounds ridiculous, it is a reality turned by an Indian inventor, Anirudh Sharma. He started a business known as Graviky Labs, which uses soot and carbon from the smog and haze to turn it into inks. He stated that carbon black is typically used to produce ink.

Carbon black is a byproduct achieved after the incomplete combustion of petroleum products. This byproduct is also used in rubber, paints and plastic production. He aims to avoid burning new fossil fuels for ink production. Instead, his ultimate vision is to create ink from the vehicle and machine exhaust produced. As a result, such innovation can reduce the particulate matter in the atmosphere from mobile sources such as vehicles.

They practised this idea first in Bangalore, India, by attaching a small equipment, KAALINK, to exhaust pipes of cars. This small electrical and mechanical device captured around 95% of PM2.5 in the exhaust and didn’t affect the engine performance. Then, the team filtered out the particulate matter and liquefied it further. This whole process resulted in a dense black coloured, free-flowing black ink. Soon, they concluded that one 30 millilitre of the pen equals 45 minutes of diesel pollution. Further, with the help of the KAALINK device, they can also use particulate pollution generated from smokestacks and factories and can only help them to increase their production.

Since 2016, Graviky Labs has successfully cleaned 1.6 trillion litres of air and produced more than 1200 litres of AIR-INK. Besides, AIR-INK was also featured at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York in the exhibit “Nature-Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial”.

Carbon Tiles

A Mumbai-based design and material start-up, Carbon Craft Design, produces carbon tiles from air pollution. This start-up was founded in January 2019 under the collaboration of AIR-INK. This innovation is beneficial because the construction industry contributes around 25 to 40% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Each carbon tile produced cleans up to 30,000 litres of air. First, the heavy metals and other toxic contaminants are separated from the soot, and then traditional artisans handcraft the tiles in shades from black, grey and white.

A sustainable plastic

AirCarbon was developed by Newlight Technologies, which uses greenhouse gases and carbon emissions to produce a sustainable and carbon negative product. AirCarbon is a composition of 40% air and 60% GHG; no oil and no fossil fuel is used for production. According to the World Economic Forum, Aircarbon is a unique material. All living organisms on the Earth generate it; it is an ancient molecule that stores carbon. Moreover, it is biodegradable and has strength like plastic. It can be melted and formed into various shapes. Newlight Technologies have signed deals with many companies like IKEA for sustainable products. 

Positive impact on nature

Recent studies have found that plants absorb carbon dioxide more effectively under polluted air. This study published in Nature magazine has revealed that pollution has considerably helped plant growth. Furthermore, scientists from the Center for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office Hadley Centre, ETH Zurich, and the University of Exeter noted that atmospheric pollution has helped in plant productivity from 1960 to 1999.

The research team said clouds and atmospheric particles scatter sunlight even though sunlight reduces photosynthesis. This means that it helps plants transform more of the available sunlight into growth because fewer leaves are in the shade. In addition, there are many different aerosols present in the atmosphere from various sources. At the same time, some aerosols make the atmosphere warm, while others make them cool.

Researchers have also found out that most human activities create cool-inducing aerosols. These help in cooling the climate by reflecting sunlight and making clouds brighter. Moreover, these aerosols also affect the absorption of carbon dioxide by plants on land and sea. In addition, some of the other aerosols can help reduce global warming by cooling the atmosphere and also help in reducing the carbon dioxide levels in the air once we emit them.

Air pollution created from power plants can benefit mariculture producers. These producers can successfully breed fish in artificially heated waters. These waters get heated due to water vapours. Examples of such cases are oyster production at Northport, lobster and shrimp production at Maine and Miami and catfish production at Nashville, Lake Colorado and Washington DC. Moreover, the effects of toxic contaminants on sea urchins have aided giant-kelp beds near San Diego, California.

Further, I will elaborate on the solutions to lessen air pollution.

   What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?

I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.

Personal Hygiene

You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:

  • You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt. 
  • You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
  • You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
  • You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.

Breathing Exercise 

The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.

Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer. 

You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, then you have good lungs health.

Good diet 

Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.

You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are: 

Immunity booster drinks

You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:

  • Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep, and you will be relieved from chest congestion. 
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up. 
  • Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. Have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat. 
  • Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional. 
  • You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.

Use Mask

Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress. 

Masks I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASKEAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene
NIOSH approved N95 maskFour layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe
BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face MaskThree layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask

How can I individually reduce air pollution?

You can always try your level best to minimise air pollution. The following are the methods to reduce air pollution at an individual level.

Plant Trees

Encourage tree plantation drives amongst the communities. You can be a green saviour of your region. Trees are the natural air purifiers of the environment, and it supplies us with clean air.

Municipal councils or the local authorities can develop urban forests to increase the green cover of the locality. They can also plan to create vertical green walls to improve oxygen levels of the region naturally. But don’t forget to plant only indigenous trees. 

Human/ religious celebrations in eco-friendly ways 

Nowadays, many couples celebrate gender (of their baby) revealing parties by bursting firecrackers. But, unfortunately, these firecrackers can transform into massive wildfires if they are burst near trees.

Thus, you can celebrate such celebrations by planting trees in your nearby barren land. Bursting firecrackers on any religious, festive or personal occasion are only going to harm your loved ones. 

You can also celebrate Christmas by not cutting Christmas Trees. Instead, you can buy artificial ones and use them in the coming years too.

Discourage Plastic

Single-use plastic has been one of the major concerns in the environment. Plastic pollution indirectly contributes to the degradation of air quality. Plastic, when burned, releases various toxic gases such as dioxins into the air.

Encourage alternative use of the plastic product. For example, you can wear a cloth bag for shopping. You can also carry your travel cutlery set to a restaurant. Additionally, you can take your water bottle instead of purchasing a packaged drinking water bottle every time.

Use of public transportation 

Increase the use of public transport to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. You can also try carpooling or the cab sharing option. Then, you can also use bicycles instead of scooters. Lastly, you can always opt for walking a shorter distance. 

Alternative use of fossil fuel

It would be best to try switching to other fuel alternatives. For example, don’t use wood for the fireplace. Instead, you can wear multiple layers of clothes for warmth. In this way, you can conserve energy. Additionally, you can also install solar panels on house roofs to convert solar energy into electricity. 

You can also buy electric and hybrid vehicles to minimise tailpipe emissions. Finally, propose or discuss a plan with your mayor or any relevant local authority to promote your region’s renewable energy sector.

Reduction of personal carbon footprints

You can also keep a check on your carbon footprints. For example, you can delete unwanted photos, videos or emails from clouds and email boxes as and when possible. Unfortunately, this unwanted stuff takes a lot of energy, which indirectly contributes to air pollution.

You can also switch off the lights and electrical appliances of the vacant rooms. Try buying local products instead of imported ones. Be vocal about them. You can also discover your own country rather than travelling to different ones.

Create Awareness

Air pollution is unpredictable; air pollution in your vicinity can affect people living in Asia and vice-a-versa. However, you can create public awareness about air pollution amongst your community by teaching and interacting with your kids about the importance of good air. 

Educate youth by telling them the ill effects of poor air quality. Then, let your country’s future know that they deserve a better place to live!

How can the local authorities improve the air quality of your region?

You can always observe the changes happening in your surrounding nature. If you experience bad air quality or any activities producing air pollution, you can always concern relevant local authorities or the mayor.

Here are some methods which local authorities can do.

Proper disposal of waste 

Improper solid waste management of an area is an invitation to many diseases and infections. In addition, burning solid waste in public can cause air pollution, although such practices are rare in the US. 

The wastes are mainly disposed of in the engineered landfills and recycled before final disposal to landfills and waste incinerators. 

In addition, waste incinerators help to convert waste into energy.

However, many researchers have claimed that gasification technology or waste-to-energy technology may release harmful gaseous contaminants. Thus, it is necessary that waste collectors rigorously segregate the waste before sending it to waste incinerators. 

The best solution is to minimise waste at a personal level. Statistically, 70% of the waste generated can be recycled effectively. Thus, strive to recycle your waste at a personal level as much as possible.

Reducing air pollution from agriculture

Stubble burning is still practised in some parts of the US. This event contributes to the degradation of air. Local authorities can help farmers convert this waste into cattle fodder or be transformed into pellets as fuel. In addition, farmers should stop the usage of harmful pesticides or fertilisers to decrease air pollution.

How can I reduce indoor air pollution?

Maintaining household or indoor hygiene

You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. You can then vacuum your carpets and sofas at least twice a week. 

Make sure your doggies and cats are well-groomed. Use chimneys and exhaust fans in kitchens. You can also install an exhaust fan in washrooms. Always make sure you are keeping your house well ventilated. 

Keep doors and windows open when possible. Maintain the health of electric appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, AC, fans, air ducts and so on at regular intervals of the year. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants do the same work as outdoor ones- they help to purify indoor air naturally. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.

The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows: 

Air purifiers

Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to the use of air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.

Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns. Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.Washable and permanent pre-filters are available 
Blueair Pure 121Includes 3-part filtration system. Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Humidifiers

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsIt can be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierIt can be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers 

Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayIt can be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?

What Happens When We Breathe in Polluted Air?

Does Air Quality affect sleep?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?” Firstly, we discussed the basics of air pollution. Then, we discussed the disadvantages of air pollution in brief. In addition, the article outlined the advantages of air pollution. In the end, the article provided solutions to lessen air pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?

What are the five disastrous effects of air pollution?

The five disastrous effects of air pollution are:

  • Respiratory and heart ailments in human beings
  • Global Warming
  • Acid Rain
  • Depletion of the ozone layer
  • Food insecurity

What are the primary cause of air pollution and its effect on the environment?

The burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of air pollution. Combustion of fossil fuel is needed in the transportation sector, energy generation, and cooking activities. Such activities release a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide and other toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. These contaminants cause harm to human health, hampers flora and fauna growth, and create food insecurity.

What is the effect of air pollution on animals?

The effect of air pollution on animals consist of:

  • Lung damage
  • Heart ailments
  • Inflammation of eyes and other organs
  • Cancer
  • Congenital disabilities

How does air pollution affect crops?

Air pollution affects crops negatively. Pollutants present in the air, such as O3 and NOx, interfere with the plant’s metabolic activities and mess with carbon fixation by the plant canopy.

What effect does air pollution have on food crops and biodiversity?

Pollutants such as sulphur can result in excess acidification of the water bodies such as lakes and streams. This pollutant can also damage trees and fertile land. In addition, the atmospheric nitrogen can create an imbalance in biodiversity and harm overall plant communities and aquatic life. Moreover, ozone can damage the tree leaves.

How does air pollution affect global warming?

Air pollution also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This contributes to the greenhouse effect. In addition, the carbon dioxide emitted traps a tremendous amount of heat into the atmosphere. This process results in global warming.

References

Blumenthal, I., 1971. Positive pollution. RAND Corporation. Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P4613.html  

Gogoi, A., 2020. Mumbai start-up creates carbon tiles out of polluted air. brilliant! The Better India. Available at: https://www.thebetterindia.com/225013/mumbai-startup-air-pollution-tiles-carbon-craft-design-sustainable-innovation-india-ang136/  

Harris, R., 2011. Air pollution: Bad for health, but good for planet? NPR. Available at: https://www.npr.org/2011/11/11/142218650/air-pollution-bad-for-health-but-good-for-planet

Lopez, J., 2021. Air carbon: A sustainable plastic for the future (via Passle). Passle. Available at: https://www.bbeb.com/post/102h1dx/aircarbon-a-sustainable-plastic-for-the-future

Marion, J., 2019. Turning air pollution into ink. HowStuffWorks Science. Available at: https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/new-inventions/air-pollution-into-ink.htm

Nolan, 2021. Does Air Pollution Have Any Advantages? Smart Air Knowledge Base. Available at: https://smartairfilters.com/learn/smart-air-knowledge-base/does-air-pollution-some-advantages/  

Ross Chainey, D.M.S., 2016. Pollution: It isn’t all bad, in fact it can be pretty useful. World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/ink-diamonds-bricks-and-other-things-we-can-make-out-of-pollution/

Study: Pollution helps plants absorb C02. CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/04/22/plants.pollution/index.html  

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