Excellent Custom «Air Pollution» Free Essay

«Air Pollution»

Air pollution is a considerable problem, and it has been a big challenge for some decades now. It has a very toxic and dangerous effect on the health of human beings as well as their environment. The sources of air pollution range from small toxic substances like cigarettes, volcanic activities to industrial processes and large emissions from fossil fuels. Long-term effects of air pollution include the respiratory diseases, inflammations and permanent damage to the human body and the environment (Almorza, et al. 58). These effects may even cause death and dysfunction among people. In developing countries, this problem has emerged as a result of industrial processes and activities, which have increased the amount of the sources of emissions due to inappropriate and unroadworthy vehicles and other automobiles. Due to these factors, it is necessary to discuss the problem and its effects on human life and provide recommendations as part of the remedial measures. These recommendations can form part of environmental guidelines and standard protocol in tackling the menace of air pollution worldwide. This study, therefore, represents a problem-based and descriptive research, which focuses on health, ecological and environmental related issues associated with air pollution. It can be useful to health and environmental professionals and policy makers in regard to decision making and analysis of air pollution-related issues and concerns.

Definitions and Description of Terms

Air pollution can be described as disparaging and results from any source that is detrimental and contributes to the damage caused to the atmosphere. Its sources include the activities that people perform or the effects of natural calamities. These destructive materials to the atmosphere are known as pollutants, which in general terms can be solids, liquids, and gases.

Reasons for Topic Choice

Air pollution represents the introduction of harmful substances to the air in various ways, having different effects on the air environment. This topic is very crucial to study since it directly affects people's lives and health. There are environmental concerns about air pollution, and these concerns affect the human life either directly or indirectly depending on the level of association and contact (Vallero 3). As a result, the mitigating measures involve performing additional research to understanding this concept better and recommend mechanisms that can help in eliminating this challenge. Currently, the society faces many challenges involving air pollution (Almorza, et al. 59). The issue arises from the increasing number of industries and vehicles that release harmful wastes to the environment. In fact, the rate at which people get new cars is alarming considering that their use is a major factor that contributes to air pollution. Another factor that makes air pollution an area of concern is the rising challenge of global warming. Once again, the effect of the use of cars and industries has led to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The effect of this situation has increased the level of heat on the earth. Moreover, some of the greenhouse gases have led to the destruction of the ozone layer, which has resulted in the increased number of body infections like cancer.

Air Pollution Effects on Health

Some of the ways and examples through which air pollution affects health include:

Example 1

The condition leads to respiratory illnesses, stress, and overburden to the heart and lungs. It damages cells in the lungs. It is an example of a fatal effect that human beings have to deal with as a result of air pollution. In fact, many people have succumbed to these diseases, and this means that the situation is quite devastating. The burden is too heavy to endure and, therefore, finding solutions to the challenge becomes imperative.  

Example 2

Long-term exposure to polluted air may cause permanent health effects such as increased aging to the tissues of the lungs, and loss in the capacity of the lungs. It can also lead to the lower functioning of the lungs, and result in the development of several diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and cancer that can all be caused by air pollution.

Example 3

Air pollution is one of the major risks that affect the environment. Its effects include causing diseases like asthma and lung cancer. It also contributes to psychological complications and autism. These environmental diseases and effects affect the human health either directly or indirectly.

Due to all of these effects on human life and other dangers it poses to the society worldwide, this topic is, therefore, worth discussing and deserves a detailed investigation. As a result, the best approach to addressing these effects is by examining factors related to environmental protection, its harm, global warming and benefits of clean air.

Protection of the Environment from Air Pollution

Logically, to protect the environment and other victims of air pollution, there is a need to understand what it is and its components. The effects of air pollution are not limited to living organisms only but extend to various geographical and climatic conditions too. As for the environment, air pollution can cause damage ecologically to the groundwater, soil, and air. Such damage poses a serious threat to various life forms. There is a relationship between air and different life forms both on the earth's surface and underground. Polluted air is very detrimental to both flora and fauna. It reduces the number of species leading to their extinction causing an imbalance in the ecosystem. The suspended toxicants in the air usually have reproductive effects both on plants and animals thus making all the problems even more serious. Acidic rain, the difference in temperature (inversion), and global climate changes, which are being caused by the emissions of toxic greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, are among the other challenges caused by air pollution.

The Harm of Air Pollution

Air pollution is a factor that causes much harm to the society. The contributors to this effect include air pollutants and their toxicities. Air pollutants are any foreign materials in the air whose effects prove detrimental to the lives of many organisms. These are substances that have negative effects on the environment. Additionally, these substances have an adverse influence on human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), several substances have proven to be the major air pollutants. They include ground-level ozone and particle pollution. Others encompass Sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Lead and carbon monoxide have contributed to serious air pollutions. However, air pollution is caused not only by these substances. Many other suspended pollutants in the air also contribute to this problem. The suspensions of the dust and fumes also lead to the dirty air that people inhale. The presence of smoke and other hydrocarbons particles also explains the ever-growing negative effect of air pollution.

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Particle pollutants are other foreign materials present in air that also contribute to pollution. These are various particle mixtures available in the air. The most common particle pollutant known is the PM, which may cause such complications as the pulmonary and cardiac morbidity and even death. They are of different sizes which are directly associated with the beginning and continuation of diseases affecting the heart and lungs. Based on the level and duration of exposure to these particle pollutants, they can cause lower to severe illnesses in the victims. Longer exposure to these pollutants may cause the reduction in life expectancy level, as well as reduced lung functions both in adults and in children causing bronchitis and pulmonary diseases.

The next factor that constitutes air pollution is an increase in the ground level ozone. Ozone is a colorless gas which is the major component of the atmosphere. It exists both in the lower and upper layers of the atmosphere, but the one that has major effects is the increased level in the lower part of the atmosphere. It represents the chemical reactions that lead to the ground level ozone. The process involves the reaction of nitrogen oxides with volatile organic compounds (VOC). Its emission comes from the natural sources and some human activities. Ground level ozone is associated with severe respiratory problems and diseases like asthma. Its induction of toxic effects in humans and animals is apparent. It occurs due to high ozone concentrations in urban areas. These activities result from mining and industrial productions. Some of these effects are changes in morphology, functions, and immunology and biochemical reactions. It follows ozone's low water solubility, which then penetrates the lungs directly when inhaled. Consequently, it causes respiratory complications. Ecologically, it reduces the absorption of carbon dioxide by trees which in turn lowers food production by plants thus resulting in global food insecurity.

Carbon monoxide is another air pollutant, which may cause poisoning due to long exposure to it. This gas is both colorless and odorless and is produced as a result of incomplete combustion of fossil fuel. Carbon monoxide has a high affinity for oxygen in the blood, and this causes the competition for the oxygen between the gas and hemoglobin. As a result of this competition, the oxidation and respiratory failure occur in the system. These affect the production of the respiratory gases in the body and eventually lead to poisoning after long exposure.

Sulphur dioxide on its part is a very reactive and colorless gas, and at the same time dangerous air pollutant. It is normally produced from fossil fuels, volcanic activities, and many industrial processes. Long-term exposure to sulfur dioxide has the effect of irritating the respiratory system. It also leads to dysfunctions in the body system. It affects both plants and animals. In humans, it causes lung diseases which when later exposed to Sulphur compounds cause serious skin diseases. Bronchitis is a common disease associated with this compound especially among those who reside in major towns where major industrial processes are taking place. The penetration of the compound into the lungs through the mouth during breathing causes significant inhalation of the toxic gas that goes through the nose. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the USA, the normal annual standard of sulfur oxides is 0.03 ppm. Sulphur dioxide dissolves in water, and its solubility is very high thereby forming the acid rains and making soils acidic. The dioxides of sulfur also consume and reduce oxygen in the sea, lakes, oceans and water bodies in general, which in turn endanger the marine species and their related associates. When someone is exposed to sulfur dioxide and its compounds, which especially concerns the eyes among other human body parts, it irritates the parts of the eyes and damages them. It affects the respiratory tract, and leads to pulmonary edema and a very constrict air pathway.

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The nitrogen oxides also increase the respiratory infection risks. These oxides are emitted from the engines of motor vehicles, which mean these are air pollutants originating from the traffic. They irritate the lungs and can cause serious lung diseases if inhaled in great amounts. Being exposed to nitrogen oxides and its compounds to the levels between 2.0-5.0 ppm normally affects the lymphocytes and the CD8+ cells along with the natural killer cells of the body which fight the viruses. It means the body becomes weak and vulnerable to attacks by germs, viruses and diseases, which eventually leads to death. Toxicity of the nitrogen oxides and its compounds are associated with coughing and wheezing complications.

Lead (Pb) is another very toxic air pollutant. It is a toxic and at the same time heavy metal being used in major factories and industrial processes. It is being produced by engines using petrol as the engine fuel. Smelters, irrigation water wells, and wastewaters are also among other sources of emissions of lead though in smaller quantities. Depending on the level of absorption in the lungs and the particle size, Pb can induce toxicity especially in children (Vallero 6). It also affects a number of body parts and organs in humans. The cardiovascular and renal as well as the reproductive systems are some of the body organs belonging to this category. It also affects the intercellular functions and the coordination system of the body thereby leading to the impairment in the messenger system in the body coordination. Lead accumulates in blood, bones and soft tissues of the body where it affects the livers, kidney and the nervous system since it is not easily excreted. The concentration of lead in the body especially in children causes mental retardation and decreases mental growth, resulting in learning disabilities, memory impairments and some antisocial disorders, which are among the complications associated with the high concentration of lead in children.

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Global Warming

Global warming is one of the most significant and dangerous results of air pollution. There is observed the century rise in the average temperature of the overall climate across the globe. It is being caused by increased and imbalanced toxic gases in the air. Nitrogen, lead, carbon monoxide and Sulphur all belong to this category. It has caused the elevated heating to the ground thereby leading to high temperatures, low food production, increased sunburns and other diseases. Other effects on the environment include global temperature rise. The sea levels rise is also among its effects. Additionally, when subtropical deserts experience precipitations and expansion changes, it leads to global warming. The land surface experiences more warming and is exposed to the increased temperature.

These effects of global warming can be categorized into environmental and social changes caused by the emissions of human activities in the greenhouse. Scientific research is being conducted to demonstrate the change occurring in the climate and environment at large and that these changes are being caused majorly by human activities. These occurring changes in the environment and atmosphere are caused by climate change with effects ranging from glacier retreat and time changes of seasonal events to difference in agricultural production. The anticipated and future expectations in the climate change and global warming will depend majorly on the climate change policies and social developments that will be carried out over the years. The policies to be considered here include the reduction of the emissions coming from the greenhouse due to human activities and adaptation to the impacts of the climate change, which will include the geoengineering. Partially, the future expected effects are also associated with the short-term policies regarding the global warming which are expected to greatly affect the long-term impacts of global warming. The policies to be developed include the stringent and very strict rules regarding the mitigation measures and policies. High magnitudes of global warming have devastating effects, which cannot be easily adapted to. This means they have to be avoided through these policies.

Benefits of Clean Air

There are numerous benefits that people can get from clean air. These benefits are both direct and indirect to human beings and other organisms and the non-living environment. However, enjoying these benefits requires that people should focus on the protection of air. They should avoid engaging in activities that will lead to harmful effects of the environment. Some of the advantages that they stand to enjoy as a result of breathing fresh air include having healthy bodies, better mood and better sleep.    

Healthy Body

The availability of clean air ensures that people do not inhale foreign particles that may prove harmful to their body. Consequently, it promotes people’s health and determines their lifespan. Since such people have healthy bodies, the level of production increases as well. They convert their energy to productive engagement as opposed to suffering from various infections. Therefore, it is apparent that people require access to clean air as a way of avoiding infections and maintaining their productivity.

Better Mood

Breathing less polluted air lowers the risks of premature death and health complications. Consequently, it improves the general human mood leading to the reduced adverse effects on the society. Apparently, any issue arising from illnesses and other devastating outcomes normally makes people develop mood swings that make them feel unhappy most of the time. However, with the presence of clean air, the number of adverse health conditions in the society significantly reduces. Thus, this makes people stay happy most of the time.  

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Better Sleeping Quality

People experience better sleeping quality due to the efficient breathing as a result of clean air in the breathing and respiratory systems. However, achieving quality sleep requires that individuals take actions that help in controlling and protecting the ozone layer. The move will ensure that most people remain safe from the effects of infra-red radiation that include skin cancers and cataracts. On the other hand, there is the transition to new cars that use the new technology, that is, the state-of-the-art emission control. It leads to the reduction of pollution in the water bodies. Hence, this stands for the cleaner flora and fauna, which means reduced health hazards and improved food quality.

Other Air Pollutants

Other major air pollutants are classified as either carcinogens or mutagens compounds, which are responsible for the occurrence and continuation of cancer and related diseases in humans. They are volatile organic compounds that contribute to air pollution. Some of them include benzene and ethylbenzene. Others encompass toluene and xylene. There are also PAHs like the acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, and others. In addition, there are some other organic pollutants such as dioxins. These compounds are chemical pollutants that are unwanted and mostly produced in the course of industrial processes. Their effect on the environment is destructive since they greatly contribute to air pollution. Therefore, the counter-measures should be focused on eliminating their effects to ensure that people have access to clean air.


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