What is Air pollution?
Air pollution is a release into the atmosphere of any substances, ex. chemicals or airborne particles, which are harmful both to the human and animal health as well as the health of the wider environment.
Atmospheric pollution occurs because the release of air pollutants takes place at a rate much faster than they can be accommodated by the environment and removed from the atmosphere without causing serious harm.
Pollution had been known to exist for centuries, but it became an issue of serious concern only in the last 200 years or so, mostly due to the industrial revolution.
Atmospheric pollution originates from all the parts of the world and travels around knowing no borders.
What causes Air Pollution?
There are natural and anthropogenic (human-made) causes of air pollution.
Natural causes of pollution may include forest fires and volcano eruptions as well as vegetation, oceans and decay processes in soil.
It is however the anthropogenic causes that we are mostly interested in, as they no doubt play the most important role in polluting the Earth’s atmosphere.
Fossil fuels (oil, gas & coal) are the largest anthropogenic sources of air pollution – they are widely used in industry and everyday life.
But they are not the only ones.
For example, industrial processes involving some chemical reactions may also release significant amounts of pollution into the air.
Fundamental Causes of Air Pollution
is the first fundamental pollution cause.
Among other things, industrialization set in motion the widespread use of fossil fuels (oil, gas & coal) which are now the main pollution sources.
Population growth is the second fundamental pollution cause.
With population numbers literally exploding around the world, the demand for food and other goods goes up.
This demand is met by expanded production and use of natural resources, which in its turn leads to higher levels of environmental pollution in general, and air pollution in particular.
Globalization is the another major pollution cause.
has become an effective facilitator of air pollution.
Developing countries usually have much looser laws on environmental protection.
With this “benefit” as well as the population growth and easy availability of cheap labor, big industry prefers to move its facilities to such “pollution havens” rather than work in more regulated markets.
What is air quality and why does it matter to me?
Air quality is a measure of how good our air quality is in terms of the type and quantity of pollutants contained within it.
Air is polluted if it contains substances that may have a harmful effect on human health and the environment.
Poor air quality can affect peoples’ health, causing problems such as heart disease and breathing problems.
Up to 24,000 people per year die prematurely because of its effects.