What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?

In this blog post, we will discuss “What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?” Firstly, we will learn about the basics of air pollution. Then, the article will focus on the causes of air pollution. Additionally, it will also address the consequences of air pollution. In the end, the article will provide detailed solutions to improve air quality.

What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?

Air pollution can cause detrimental side effects to the humans and rest of the world. It can cause crop productivity loss, degrade human health, and loss biodiversity. Air pollution also drives climate change. The pollutants present in the air are mainly as follows:

  • Chemical contaminants such as Sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide
  • Biological pollutants such as pollens and allergens.

Let’s learn about 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. 

What is AQI, and what levels make it unhealthy?

WHO has set up the air quality guidelines to regulate the emissions; however, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has calculated its own AQI to safeguard the public health of Americans. 

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has determined the air quality index (AQI) to know the air quality you inhale. The table given below will show how the air quality index looks like.

Air Quality Index (AQI)Levels of Health Concern
(When the AQI is in this range)(air quality conditions are)
0 to 50Good           
51 to 100Moderate
101 to 150Unhealthy for Sensitive group
151 to 200Unhealthy
201 to 300Very Unhealthy
301 to 500Hazardous

The primary purpose of AQI is to inform residents about the impact of local air quality on their health. The Environment Protection Agency calculates the AQI for five major pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

The meaning of the Air quality index as mentioned earlier categories are as follows:

Meaning
Air quality is considered satisfactory; air pollution is of little or no risk.
Air quality is acceptable; some pollutants present in the air might be dangerous for a minority of people who are very sensitive to air pollution.
Members of sensitive groups may get ill effects. However, the general public is likely not to get affected.
This air quality level can pose a threat to everyone. However, members of sensitive people may experience more severe effects.
Emergency level of air quality; Entire population might be affected
Health alert: Every person breathing such air quality may get serious health issues.

 Thus, it is clear that excluding the first two levels are relatively good to venture out and to do various outdoor activities. However, the last three levels will give you or other adverse effects by inhaling dirty air. 

Let’s see in deep first the causes of air pollution.

The causes of air pollution

Transportation Sector

Vehicles are one of the significant sources of air pollution. All vehicles generate toxic pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate pollution, etc. Besides, greenhouse gases are also emitted from the commutes. They account for 29% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the transportation sector is the most significant contributor to GHG emissions in the United States. In addition, the combustion of fossil fuels like diesel and gasoline produces carbon dioxide and hydrofluorocarbons that over warm the atmosphere and causes changes in the atmosphere.

As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the transportation sector is widely responsible for smog conditions. Such smog conditions lead to poor air quality, and it causes detrimental effects on citizens and the environment. The US EPA observed that over 55% of NOx is generated by vehicles while commuting. In comparison, less than 10% of emissions are from volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.

Ozone is formed when heat and sunlight cause chemical reactions between nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds. While atmospheric ozone benefits humans and protects the earth from harm, the artificial ozone layer formed in the stratosphere can threaten living organisms.

Natural Phenomena

Natural phenomena consist of dust storms, wildfires and volcanic eruptions. As per US Geological Survey Volcano Hazard Program, there are approximately 169 active volcanoes in the United States. Most of them are situated in Alaska, and their eruptions can be expected nearly every year. Some are located in the west, and others are present on the Hawaii islands. Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is one of the most live volcanoes on the earth; it has been erupting almost regularly since 1983.  

In 2021, the National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) observed around 48,725 wildfires in the United States. These wildfires had burned about 6.5 million acres. Some of the major wildfires have occurred in California since 2000. While the two major ones happened in California last year, three have occurred in 2021. The dust storms are also prevalent in Arizona and the regions with scanty vegetation and barren land.

Volcanic eruptions release plumes of toxic gases and particulate pollution that are highly hazardous to human health in multiple ways. Even if the volcanoes release the most abundant volcanic gas, harmless water vapour, it generates other gaseous contaminants such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and hydrogen halides.

Around 180 to 440 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released from the volcanoes. Such high levels of CO2 can cause headaches and dizziness. Moreover, it can also increase heart rates and cause difficulty in breathing. Elevated levels of this gas can also damage vegetation; this can be seen in several areas of Mammoth Mountain. The sulphur dioxide released from these eruptions can also cause acid rains in the vicinity.

Wildfires releases a tremendous amount of black and brown carbon, organic carbon and particulates into the atmosphere. This pollution can get transported far away due to winds. Such kinds of pollution can cause haze conditions and reduce the visibility range. Dust storms also contain particulate matter. These matters contain particulates PM2.5 and PM10, whose diameters are less than the diameter of the human strand.

Agriculture Sector

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), agriculture consists of various activities such as harvesting, breeding and nurturing farm animals, processing crops and tending gardens and nurseries, etc. The post-harvesting phases consist of vegetable packaging, meat processing, and other processes in conventional agricultural production practices—for example, flour mills, cotton ginners, etc. In the United States, half of the land area, which is nearly a 1.2billion acres, is farmland. These farmlands generate a tremendous supply of crops and other products.

Particulate pollution is produced during various agricultural practices. Firstly, the unpaved roads present in the farmlands can generate particulate pollution containing dust and sand. Then, there are different sorts of machinery used for farming. The exhausts of these machineries also generate various toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulates and sulphur dioxide. While agricultural waste burning is sporadic in the United States, if done, it can produce ash and volatile organic compounds in the air. The pesticides sprayed on the crops can also cause air pollution. Airborne pollutants such as hexachlorobenzene, endrin, etc., are released into the air. The livestock department can also equally produce air pollution and cause a health hazard. The livestock industry has greenhouse gases like methane and other hydrocarbons. The reared pigs can cause asthmatic symptoms in farmers. A high density of pig production can produce excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous.

Indoor Air Pollution

Many household activities such as heating, cooking, cleaning and other miscellaneous activities significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. Indoor pollution contributes to ambient air pollution. Many regular household products such as cleaning sprays, varnish, paints, solvent removers, perfumes, tobacco smoke and incense stick can pollute the air.

Asbestos can also cause deterioration of indoor air. It is found in various products such as home construction materials, and they are commonly detected in paints, coatings, ceilings and floor tiles. Generally, the old products or older houses would be having more presence of this toxic material than the newer ones.

But the good news is that the United States has banned its use in construction activities and it’s no longer used. Formaldehydes group are colourless gas having a pungent smell. Even though its production has been banned in the United States since 1970, they are still found in paints, sealants and wooden floors. Carpets also use formaldehyde as permanent adhesives.

Radon is one such toxic agent which is found underneath homes. Radon is usually discovered in bedrock and other building materials that cause indoor air pollution. Tobacco smoke is also one of the neglected and concerning air pollutants.

You would like to keep fresh flowers keeping in your living room. You also would be having furry friends living with you. Though I am not very keen on plucking flowers or purchasing them to decorate my house, I love doggies and other furry pets. But they all come with one big drawback. They can produce biological pollutants such as pollens, mould, bacteria, viruses and animal dander, developing asthmatic symptoms in people.  

Gas appliances such as heaters, wood stoves, space heaters, dryers, fireplaces and space heaters release hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates.

The fumes released from the paraffin wax candles causes air to pollute. Research done by South Carolina State University said that paraffin wax releases toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene indoors. Even the office stationeries such as copiers, laser printers, correction fluids, etc., release volatile organic compounds which deeply penetrate the lungs and inflame their linings. Besides, dry cleaned laundry clothes contain highly toxic substances such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.

Industrial and Energy Sector

The various industrial process releases massive amounts of organic compounds, greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and chemicals in the air. Researchers observe that considerably large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, gets released in various production and manufacturing industries. Sometimes, industries might not use updated machinery and technologies in their process.

In such cases, outdated technologies can produce a large amount of toxic gaseous waste. The construction and demolition industry also has many airborne pollutants such as particulate matter in the air. Such activities can significantly contribute to the smog conditions and can affect visibility. In addition, the RMC or ready mix concrete plants produce hazardous VOCs and other toxic gases in the air while creating cement and mortar mix. The other pollutants released by all industries are HAPs or hazardous air pollutants, leading to health complications.

The energy sector is also one of the prominent contributors to greenhouse gases. In addition, the energy generation and consumption process can negatively impact human health. This is because fossil fuels like natural gas and coal are used.

Sulphur content coal produce plumes of sulphur oxides, carbon monoxide, ash, black and brown carbon in the air. Sulphur dioxide can further initiate acid rains which damage respiratory and heart health. Again, the particulate pollution creates a hazy condition in cities and can often mix with ozone to make the air unhealthier to breathe.

Nuclear power plants don’t produce the pollutants mentioned earlier, but their wastes are lethal. If the radioactive wastes are not properly disposed of, they can release many toxic gases into the air and soil.

The causes mentioned above can create a detrimental effect on humans and the whole earth. Let’s see the consequences of air pollution.

Human Health

Physical Health

Air pollution causes detrimental effects on human health. It can affect your body, from the hair on your head to nails on your toes. 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. The impact 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.

Many scientific studies have proved that air pollution weakens the immune system and can cause asthma or asthmatic conditions in humans, especially children. One such study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of 2010 examined around 181 children with and without asthma in the California cities of Fresno and Palo Alto. Researchers selected Fresno city kids as this city is known for poor air quality, Palo Alto has comparatively lower air pollution.

The researchers found that exposure to high levels of air pollution had suppressed the immunity system’s regulatory T cells (Treg). As a result, it lowered the level of Treg function. These reduced levels of Treg cells were distinctly linked to asthma symptoms and decreased lung capacity.

Air pollution can affect some of the vulnerable sections of the world. For example, women and children in rural areas of developing countries are more vulnerable to lung diseases due to high exposure to biomass such as animal dung, wood, etc., during cooking. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also claimed that low and middle-income countries and people of colour suffer significantly due to pollution as the air quality standards pass the safe guideline limits.

Moreover, elderly citizens have a maximum risk of diseases if prolonged exposure to air pollution—the polluted air ages the lung tissues and skin. In addition, the inhaled pollutants can make the blood vessels stiff and rigid, which can cause stress to the heart. Therefore, such issues can weaken immunity and invite many illnesses. In addition, older adults with preexisting medical conditions are more susceptible to air pollution.

Mental Health

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. One shocking outcome from research done in 2014 by Jackson showed that the Eastern winds of Israel, which generally carries a heavy concentration of particulate matter, can generate psychotic exacerbations of schizophrenia and suicide attempts in people who already had schizophrenia. Do you know that 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness every year?

Depletion of Water Bodies and Land Surface 

Air pollution causes harm to the water cycle. As a result, this results in the depletion of various natural resources. The two primary resources which get deteriorate are water bodies and land surfaces. Let’s know more about it below.

Acid precipitation

Air pollution can considerably affect the soil and water health of the Earth when the toxic pollutants develop into clouds and condense to form acid rain. Acid rains are also called acid precipitations. Acid precipitation is completely acidic. Acidic precipitation changes the soil’s pH level when it comes in contact with land surfaces and water bodies.

Even the warmer air alters the temperature of the soil, which changes the composition of the bacteria. The acidic deposition is of two types, namely, wet and dry. Acid rain is a wet type of acidic deposition that causes soil erosion and affects the ecosystem. In contrast, dry deposition occurs when small acid particles and gases such as sulphur dioxides and nitrogen dioxides fall on the Earth’s surface.

Soil degradation

 Now, acidic precipitation results in soil degradation. The soil acidic in nature decreases the ability to retain many nutrients such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and potassium (K). The agricultural run-off or water on the soil gets absorbed and seeps through the soil. As a result, the aquifers or groundwaters are also gets affected.

Acidification

On the other hand, the acidic rain falling on the water bodies pose a significant threat to aquatic life. The constant fluctuations of water temperatures and the nutrient composition imbalances fish population and other wildlife depending on it.

The ocean’s aquatic life has been at significant risk due to air pollution. Corals, mangroves and seaweeds are degrading due to air pollution. In addition, fishes are dependent on these habitats for survival, posing a threat to their population.

Additionally, fishes find it difficult to breathe because of depleting oxygen supplies. World Meteorological Organisation says that around 90% of the greenhouse gases get trapped in the oceans.

Loss of biodiversity and Food Insecurity

If air pollution is not taken seriously by you and your friends or your elected political leader, it will cost you scenic beauties, biodiversity and natural resources. Your vast lush green natural grasslands or green rich forests might be replaced arid and barren lands. Unfortunately, it sounds depressing. But, here’s why I am telling you.

Flora and fauna are all dependent on natural resources such as water and soil to thrive on the Earth. However, as explained earlier, the unnecessary involvement of airborne pollutants in the water cycle and their accumulation in the ground and other natural resources leads to the depletion of their nutrients.

The animals and plants relying on these resources then come under a significant threat. The indirect and direct impact of air pollution affects plant growth and reduces the production of fruits and flowers. Herbivorous animals relying on the plants will not get a sufficient amount of greens to fulfil their stomach, which will lead to a decline in their population. Their declining rate will affect the primary, secondary and tertiary predators and the apex predators. As a result, air pollution affects the food web of an ecosystem. Besides, the lowering rate of insects is alarming as the insect-plant relationship is the backbone of nature.

 Insects are responsible for creating the biological foundation for all the terrestrial ecosystems. Insects balance the nutrient cycle of the environment. Some insects like earthworms and dung beetles aid to maintain soil structure and enhancing soil nourishment. Insects like honeybees also significantly play a role in increasing fruit and flower plants. Again, this is because of the pollination process. Thus, this helps in balancing the food chain.

On the other hand, some insects like ants help to keep your surroundings clean and odourless. In addition, these insects help in the decomposition process of plants and animals. Some insects are badass because they help keep control of the pests or nasty bugs that harm our environment. However, particulate matter (PM2.5) affects the antennae, wings and hind legs of pollinating insects like honeybees. Its inhalation also messes up their brains, making them confused and delaying the pollination process. Such issues will burden the food security of the world.

More than humans, birds are most exposed to these toxic contaminants. Such exposure impacts their respiratory functions. Pollutants such as black carbon and soot can transform a beautiful bird into an ugly stained one. Also, amphibians such as frogs are vulnerable to herbicides and insecticides because of their skin permeability. Their skin absorbs such poison, and it transfers their vital organs such as the heart, lungs, gills and brain. Moreover, indoor air pollution causes danger to furry pets; they can get respiratory ailments and tumours.

Depletion of the Ozone layer

The ozone layer is exceptionally beneficial for the proper functioning of the Earth. The main job of the ozone is to protect the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UVB rays) from the Sun. Without the ozone layer, humans will acquire many dangerous skin diseases such as skin cancer, cataracts and compromised immune systems. Unfortunately, this ozone layer is vulnerable to hazardous air pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This chemical may be present you very nearby you, wonder how? This chemical is used as the refrigerant in your refrigerators, and it is made up of chlorine atoms. When the chlorine atoms are released into the atmosphere, they can destroy ozone. A single chlorine atom has the power to kill thousands of ozone molecules.  

Meteorological Changes, Global warming and Climate change

The high levels of particulate matter and ozone can cause the sky to be hazy and smoggy, creating less visibility. Sometimes, the high concentration of particulates can cause darkness and reduce the expected amount of sunlight to the Earth. Such less sunlight can affect the photosynthesis processes in the plants, leading to fewer crops productivity. Besides, hazy skies are also responsible for the alterations in the weather and climate.

The greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and fluorinated gases are mainly produced from various human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, industries, and the agricultural sector. These gases get trapped inside the Earth’s atmosphere and cause warm temperatures. In addition, these gases also fluctuate with the seasons and weather. Finally, global warming is boosted by the tremendous presence of gases.

Global warming and the greenhouse effect has led to another huge challenge known as Climate Change. Climate change is a worldwide challenge to the Earth’s climate because of the natural causes and human activity. Climate change has globally negatively impacted the climatic patterns. It also causes the north and south poles to melt rapidly, increasing sea level. Such a rise in the sea level can threaten coasts and island nations. Besides, climate change has caused more extreme meteorological changes such as intense heat waves, prolonged droughts, flash floods, wildfires and harsh winters.

Intense fluctuations in the weather and climate give rise to multiple diseases such as cholera, typhoid, etc.

Thus, our responsibility is to create awareness about air pollution and its effects amongst your friends and loved ones. After all, nobody wants to experience like those scientific fiction movies showing apocalypse. 

Below, I am providing comprehensive solutions to improve air quality.

   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 Happens When We Breathe in Polluted Air?

Does Air Quality affect sleep?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of air pollution?

Conclusion

We discussed “What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?” in this blog post. Firstly, we learnt about the basics of air pollution. Then, the article focused on the causes of air pollution. Additionally, the article also addressed the consequences of air pollution. In the end, the article provided detailed solutions to improve air quality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the causes and consequences of air pollution?

Which pollutants causes chlorosis in plants?

Ozone causes chlorosis in plants. This is because ozone enters into leaves through stomata during typical gas exchange. As ozone is a strong oxidant, it causes several symptoms, including chlorosis and necrosis.

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.

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.

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.

Why air pollution is a problem?

Air pollution is a problem because it harms crops, animals, and plants simultaneously. Air pollution also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer and aggravate climate change. Some of the environmental effects of air pollution are smog, hazy skies and eutrophication.

References

Arslan, S. & Aybek, A., 2012. Particulate matter exposure in agriculture. IntechOpen. Available at: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/38344  

Causes, effects and solutions to improve indoor air pollution. Conserve Energy Future. Available at: https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-indoor-air-pollution.php  

Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions. EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/fast-facts-transportation-greenhouse-gas-emissions  

Smog, Soot, and Other Air Pollution from Transportation. EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/smog-soot-and-local-air-pollution

US Energy Information Administration – EIA – independent statistics and analysis. Electricity and the environment – US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Available at: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/electricity-and-the-environment.php  

Vehicles, air pollution, and human health. Union of Concerned Scientists. Available at: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/vehicles-air-pollution-human-health  

Volcano Hazards Program. Volcanic gases can be harmful to health, vegetation and infrastructure. Available at: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/volcanic-gases  

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