In the present day, contamination is a word we often hear, we become so used to hearing it that we often ignore it. However, it is, and air pollution is a very dangerous form of pollution that affects all of us. Containing high levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, chlorofluorocarbons, and many more. It happens when any unsafe gases, dust, smoke goes into the climate and makes it harder for plants, wildlife, and people to make due as the air ends up contaminated. With this being said, when it feels so great to walk outside and take that deep breath of fresh air, just how fresh is it? We don’t realize that we are breathing a lot of different harmful gases. Breathing these gases can be reduced drastically by switching to renewable energy or even cutting out certain products we use could have a huge impact.
Many different sources cause air pollution. Automobiles that are burning gasoline produce very harmful gases. Gaseous products produced by chemical plants release toxic gases with their concentration is at a high level. As the world has become more industrialized, the increased amount of air pollution and new health hazards have developed. Air pollution can occur from different sources that we can’t control. For example, forest fires, dust storms, and volcanoes.
The burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of air pollution. This contains the fossil fuel, coal. As stated in the article “The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels,” coal has long been a reliable source of American energy, but it comes with tremendous costs because it is incredibly dirty. The same chemistry that enables coal to produce energy also produces a number of profoundly harmful environmental impacts and pollutants that harm public health. The main gases coal gives off are hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane. These are all harmful gases that we take in, especially carbon monoxide. Studies of carbon monoxide affecting humans health have shown that there were long-term impacts in instances of unintentional harming. “During 2010-2015, a total of 2,244 deaths resulted from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with the highest number of deaths occurring each year in winter months” (Disease Control and Prevention). Taking into consideration that these studies were done a few years ago, the deaths would be higher now because there have been no major changes to reduce air pollution.
Another issue is natural gas, not just the flammable gas that consists large amounts of methane and other hydrocarbons. Not only is this dangerous for us to breathe, but the way it is transported also isn’t even safe. The way natural gas is transported over long distances is a problem and had caused many injuries, even death. “Between 2008 and 2015, there were 5,065 significant safety incidents related to natural gas pipeline transmission and distribution, leading to 108 fatalities and 531 injuries” (Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels). There is also the effect gas leaks have on not just us, but the environment as well. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, exposure to low levels of natural gas could cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and irregular breathing. Exposure to high levels of natural gas can cause severe headaches, lack of coordination, even death by suffocation.
The burning of fossil fuels has a huge impact on human health and air pollution, but it isn’t the only cause. Something you might not think of as much is farming chemicals and household products. Some household products would be cleaners, air fresheners, glues, paints, and even candles. These are products that are used on a daily basis, it may be little but it adds up, people could easily cut a few of these products out to help with air pollution.
Indoor and outdoor air pollution are the two main sources of pollution. Indoor air polluters include many different products, from certain cleaners to furnishings, which release toxic compounds into the air that we breathe. Another very toxic indoor pollutant is mold, which is a microscopic organism that can grow on any type of surface; it typically grows where the humidity is about 70 percent. Mold creates spores that go inside the human body and may cause complications. The American Lung Association states that mold triggers allergic reactions, which includes asthma. A study done by Mayo Clinic mentions that mold is the main cause of all chronic sinus infections. Mold can also lead to serious complications, including breathing difficulties, memory loss, and bleeding of the lungs. Indoor pollutants are serious, but they are nothing compared to outdoor pollutants that are in the air we breathe.
Another source of air pollution is acid rain. Raindrops that are combined with polluted air create acid rain. Acid rain mainly causes the erosion of buildings, destruction of crops, and many other assets. Global warming is also caused by acid rain. Many scientists predict that alterations in climate patterns could become more noticeable in the next few years. The global average temperature has been estimated to increase as much as 9 degrees before the year 2100. Which then leads back to how air pollution affects not just us, but the environment as well. This much of a change in the climate could result in hurricanes or serve heat.
Sulfuric acid is the major cause of the acidity of acid rain, which is not only dangerous to forests in the Northern Hemisphere but also causes fish to die off in many northern lakes. Solutions to this problem are very expensive: due to the difficulty of removing the sulfur from coal and oil, they are burned. Carbon dioxide is less lethal than carbon monoxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide. However, carbon dioxide is the one major pollutant in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of carbon dioxide. In 1975, there were 18 million tons released into the atmosphere, however, the atmosphere only showed an increase of 8 million tons. Ocean waters contain approximately sixty times more carbon dioxide than in the atmosphere. If the oceans no longer can absorb this ratio of carbon dioxide, then there will be no more carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere. If the water warms, the ability to absorb carbon dioxide is drastically reduced.
There are a lot of different causes to air pollution, but there also many different solutions to reduce the number of harmful gases. “The most basic solution for air pollution is to end its root causes: quit coal and move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with clean, renewable energy” (Solutions to Air Pollution). A study done in 2014 by Energy and Environmental Science, concluded that by 2050 the United States would be able to have 100% renewable energy. Reducing air pollution is possible, it may take a while to lower the number of harmful gases but it is very important for our health.
Switching to renewable energy would definitely be the most effective, but it is not the only way to reduce air pollution. Carpooling is the most effective way to reduce air pollution. There are millions of cars traveling on the road every day. Therefore, the emission of carbon monoxide from vehicles has become one of the main impacts of air pollution, which is linked to a number of health concerns including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, allergies, and neurological effects. In order to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, the numbers of vehicles on the road must be reduced because having fewer cars on the road will consequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. In addition to carpooling, taking public transport can also help to prevent the increasing numbers of vehicles on the road. This would then lead to a reduction in air pollution.
All in all, air pollution is one of America’s biggest problems, the air we breathe in contains a lot of different harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, lead, and more. Air pollution is harmful to us, the environment and wildlife. Although this is a big problem and continuing to get worse, there are many solutions to reduce pollution. There will never be a way to get rid of it completely, however, switching to renewable energy will make a big difference or just cutting out driving vehicles as much as possible or avoid certain cleaners.