Causes and Effects of Air Pollution

causes and effects of air pollution

Air pollution threatens the health of humans and other living beings in our planet. It creates smog and acid rain, causes cancer and respiratory diseases, reduces the ozone layer atmosphere and contributes to global warming.

Causes of Air Pollution

  • Air pollution is caused when air in the atmosphere is filled with particulate matter.
  • The largest source air of pollution in cities is from vehicle exhaust fumes.
  • Carbon monoxide is the largest air pollutant in the United States, and it’s number one source is from vehicle exhausts.
  • Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless, colorless gas that is formed when burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas.
  • Filters that are not changed regularly in your air conditioning units will accumulate dirt and cause the spread of pollutants in the air you breathe inside your home.
  • Chemicals and toxic pollutants likes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and  carbon dioxide react with water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acid rain.  These  pollutants come from factories, automobiles and any industrial or manufacturing plants.
  • Another source of air pollution is from dust and dirt that goes airborne due to every day labor in the agricultural and construction industry. Dust is lifted from tractors working on fields, and from land clearing and general demolition in the construction industry.
  • Using household chemicals without adequate ventilation is a major source of indoor air pollution.
  • Volcanoes, dust storms, and forest fires are causes of natural air pollution.

Effects of Air Pollution

  • Air pollution causes irritation in the throat, nose, lungs and eyes.  It causes breathing problems and aggravates existing health conditions such as emphysema and asthma.
  • Contaminated air reduces the body’s defenses and decreases the body’s capacity to fight other infections in the respiratory system.
  • Frequent exposure to polluted air increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Breathing air that is filled with fine particulate matter can induce hardening of the arteries, triggering cardiac arrhythmia or even a heart attack.
  • People who exercise outdoors are susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution because it involves deeper and faster breathing.
  • Acid rain contains hydrogen ions, which can damage trees, crops, harm marine animals and induce corrosion in metals.
  • Smog causes harmful health effects in humans and animals.  Studies have shown signs of black lung disease in dolphins of due to high concentrations of carbon particles in the air.
  • People afflicted with heart disease, children and older people are more sensitive to air pollution.

Air Pollution Facts and Statistics

  • Air pollution affects kids more than adults due to higher concentrations of polluted air in their systems per body size.
  • India is the country with the worst air quality in the world.
  • The European Union would save 161 billion euros a year if deaths caused by air pollution were diminished.
  • In large cities, over 80% of fatal pollutants that cause lung damage come from cars, buses, motorcycles and other vehicles on the road.
  • According to the World Health Organization, there are as many deaths (1.3 million per year) in the world due to air pollution as there are deaths due to car accidents.
  • The average adult breathes 3,000 gallons of air every day.
  • Each weekend, more than 800 million gallons of gas per year are used in lawn mowers in the United States, producing up to 5% of total air pollution.
  • Vehicle exhaust contributes 60% of all carbon monoxide emissions in the United States and can go to over 90% for large cities.
  • The Great Smog of London in 1952 was one of the worst air pollution events in history with over 8,000 deaths.
  • The largest cause of air pollution in Europe is road transportation with over 5,000 people dying each year from lung cancer and heart attacks caused by vehicle exhaust fumes.


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