Air pollution is caused by humans. Humans release pollution when we drive cars, burning waste from factories, heating up your house, burning wood, etc. Air pollution is affecting the whole world, and of the effects are happening to big cities and countries. Air pollution has a range of effects. Starting from how it affects the environment to the effects on humans and the organisms in the area.
Air pollutants, according to the EPA, are air toxics that can “cause cancer and other serious health effects”. The other effects of air pollution can also have ecological and environmental effects. According to an article, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and all the different types of particulate matter are the common pollutants in the air. Each and every toxin affects every living organisms; from plants to humans.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is one of the most toxic pollutants that can be released into the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide is released from natural sources as well as humans. It comes naturally from volcanoes and forest fires but mostly comes from human-caused sources like indoor heaters, cars combustions, old appliances, factories, and cigarettes. Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 people die in the US every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. We know that there are direct consequences with carbon monoxide, but it also has indirect effects on climate change also. Carbon monoxide can persist in the air for months and be carried long distances. While it stays in an area, it starts a chain reaction that causes higher concentration from other greenhouses like methane, tropospheric ozone, and carbon dioxide; which then correlates with climate change.
Lead is a known toxic in water from what we have seen in Flint, Michigan. But lead is actually in the air also. Lead is released into the air for more and metal processing, burning of aviation fuel, lead-acid battery manufacturers, and more. We know what lead can do to us. Once lead is inside the body, it is hard to get it out. Lead go through the bloodstream and lands on the bones and disrupts the capacity of how much oxygen can be carried by blood cells. If there are enough lead levels, it can affect the nervous system, kidney functions, immune system, reproductive systems, neurological dysfunction, and cardiovascular system. Lead is also dangerous in ecosystems as well. Lead can be distributed by air pollution and contaminate the soil and sediments. Lead can also be distributed by direct discharge from factories in waterways. If lead is consumed by animals and plants, it can decrease growth and reproduction of the organism, and neurological effects on animals.
Ozone is one of the layers in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is between the ground level and upper atmosphere. The ozone contains a molecule with three oxygen atoms (O3). In this layer, there is good ozone and bad ozone. The good ozone is in the upper atmosphere. The purpose of the good ozone is to shield the Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But now with the rise of manmade chemical released into the air, the ozone layer is creating a “hole”. But the hole has slow down in the past recent years but is still increasing. The bad ozone is in the tropospheric layer (ground level). This ozone is created by chemical reactions with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. It is caused when pollutants from factories, cars, chemical plants are released in the presence of sunlight. It is a huge issue in urban cities on a hot day (and sometimes cold days too). But ozone can be carried at long distances too, so rural areas also can be affected. Ozone pollution affects the population of people are sensitive to the air, people with asthma, and people active outdoors. The symptoms of ozone pollution are chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and inflammation of the airway. Plants that are sensitive can have reduced photosynthesis, slow growth, and increase the risk of disease, insect attraction, weakened to severe weather and pollution. Ozone also directs the entire ecosystem as a whole. The ecosystem can see effects from loss of species diversity to changes in water and nutrient cycles.
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