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Air Pollution - An Introduction

Air, which we breathe, is vital for any living being on this earth. Clean and pure air is what every individual would crave for. Industrialization and modernization have acted as a hindrance to the very existence of mankind. Factories that blow smoke from the chimney, buses, cars, scooters, even a person smoking a cigarette has contributed towards polluting the air.


Major Air Pollutants
Discharging harmful substances in the air can have an adverse effect on our health. Over the years air is getting more and more polluted because of modernization, such as industries, population, vehicles, etc.

Dust, smoke from forest fire, etc. are some of the causes of air pollution which are not within human control.

1. SMOG:
The combination of various gases with water vapour is called Smog. When fuels are burnt, large parts of gases is produced that form smog. Rural and suburban areas can get affected by the smog. Similar to fog, smog causes misty haze but is different in composition.

The word Smog has been coined with the combination of the words fog and smoke.

For heating and cooking, coal was heavily depended upon by household and industries for their age.

For several days if the smog persisted it would affect human health. People would suffer from respiratory health. People would suffer from respiratory problems. Till middle of 20th century very little was done to control any type of pollution. But today there are legislation to control pollution and are much lower in cities than in the past.

2. ACID RAIN:
Acid rain is another cause of air pollution. Acid rain is nothing but the combination of water vapour with the fossil fuel in the atmosphere which falls as rain or snow. Human health, water, soil are all affected by acid rain.

Most species of fishes have disappeared because of lakes and stream been contaminated. Acid rain is difficult to control as they might be carried long distance.

3. INDOOR AIR POLLUTION:
Smoking and cooking are some of the indoor pollutants. Air exposure and harmful indoor pollutants can be serious since we spend most of our time inside buildings. Air circulation may be restricted in closed environment like our work place, where we study, our place of sleep, etc.

We are affected either by short or long term illness due to such exposed pollutants. Children are affected more from air pollution as their lungs continue to develop throughout childhood. They need more oxygen due to their metabolic rates.

In the rural areas people rely on fuels such as charcoal, cowdung, firewoods for heating and cooking and so faces the greatest threat from indoor pollution. Large amount of smoke is produced by burning such fuels. Women and children get affected from these smoke as they spend most of the time at home.

Due to construction, household products, pesticides, etc. indoor air pollution has increased.

The quality of air is affected by number of pollutants, such as:

Smoking tobacco: Tobacco smoking is known to cause cancer as it contains harmful chemicals. A smoker can cause wide range of problems to the non smoker in the same room like ranging from asthma, burning of eyes, throat irritation, etc.

Organic compounds: Products used at home such as polish, air freshener, repellants, etc. are all organic compounds. Use of these products at home cause irritation in the eyes and throat and later subject to headaches and nausea. Some of these pollutants could also damage our lives or other parts of the body.

Pesticides: These do not cause too much harm if used as per instructions.