Control Of Air Pollution Essay

Essay on Air Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control of Air Pollution!

The World Health Organization defines air pollution as “the presence of materials in the air in such concentration which are harmful to man and his environment.”

In fact air pollution is the occurrence or addition of foreign particles, gases and other pollutants into the air which have an adverse effect on human beings, animals, vegetation, buildings, etc.

Cause of Air Pollution:

The various causes of air pollution are:

(i) Combustion of natural gas, petroleum, coal and wood in industries, automobiles, aircrafts, railways, thermal plants, agricultural burning, kitchens, etc. (soot, flyash, CO2, CO, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides).

(ii) Metallurgical processing (mineral dust, fumes containing fluorides, sulphides and metallic pollutants like lead, chromium, nickel, beryllium, arsenic, vanadium, cadmium, zinc, mercury).

(iii) Chemical industries including pesticides, fertilizers, weedicides, fungicides.

(iv) Cosmetics.

(v) Processing industries like cotton textiles, wheat flour mills, asbestos.

(vi) Welding, stone crushing, gem grinding.

Natural air pollutants include (a) pollen, spores, (b) marsh gas, (c) volcanic gases and (a) synthesis of harmful chemicals by electric storms and solar flares. The major cause of pollution in the urban areas is automobiles which inefficiently burn petroleum, releases 75% of noise and 80% of air pollutants. Concentration of industries in one area is another major cause of air pollution.

Effect of Air Pollutants:

Air pollutants are broadly classified into particulate and gaseous. The particulate substances include solid and liquid particles. The gaseous include substances that are in the gaseous state at normal temperature and pressure. The air pollutants have adverse effect on human beings, animals, vegetation, buildings. Air pollutants also change earth’s climate. Aesthetic sense is also influenced by air pollutants. The different air pollutants and their effects are as follows:

1. Particulate Matter:

It is of two types—settleable and suspended. The settleable dusts have a particle longer than 10 (am. The smaller particles are able to remain suspended for long periods in the air. The important effects of particulate matter are.

(i) Dust and smoke particles cause irritation of the respiratory tract and produces bronchitis, asthma and lung diseases.

(ii) Smog is a dark or opaque fog which is formed by the dust and smoke particles causing condensation of water vapours around them as well as attracting chemicals like SO2, H2S, NO2, etc. Smog harms plant life through glazing and necrosis besides reduced availability of light. In human beings and animals it produces respiratory troubles.

(iii) Particulate matter suspended in air, scatters and partly absorbs light. In industrial and urban areas, sunlight is reduced to 1/3 in summer and 2/3 in winter.

(iv) At a concentration above 150 g/100m3, cotton dust in ginning process produces pneumoconiosis or lung fibrosis called byssinosis. Lung fibrosis produced in other industries includes asbestosis (in asbestos industry), silicosis (stone grinders), siderosis (iron mill), coal miners’ pneumoconiosis, flour mill pneumoconiosis, etc.

2. Carbon monoxide:

It accounts for 50% of the total atmospheric pollutants. It is formed by incomplete combustion of carbon fuels in various industries, motor vehicles, hearths, kitchens, etc. Carbon monoxide combines with haemoglobin of blood and impairs its oxygen carrying capacity. At higher concentration, carbon monoxide proves lethal.

3. Sulphur Oxides:

They occur mainly in the form of sulphur dioxide. It is produced in large quantity during smelting of metallic ores and burning of petroleum and coal in industries, thermal plants, home and motor vehicles. In the air, SO2 combines with water to form sulphurous acid (H2SO3) which is the cause of acid rain. It causes chlorosis and necrosis of vegetation. Sulphur dioxide, above 1 ppm, affects human beings. It causes irritation to eyes and injury to respiratory tract. It results in discolouration and deterioration of buildings, sculptures, painted surfaces, fabrics, paper, leather, etc.

4. Nitrogen Oxides:

They are produced naturally through biological and non-biological activities from nitrates, nitrites, electric storms, high energy radiations and solar flares. Human activity forms nitrogen oxides in combustion process of industries, automobiles, incinerators and nitrogen fertilizers. Nitrogen oxides act on unsaturated hydrocarbons to form peroxy-acyl nitrates or PAN. It gives rise to photochemical smog. They cause eye irritation, respiratory troubles, blood congestion and dilation of arteries.

5. Carbon dioxide:

Due to excessive combustion activity, the content of C02 has been steadily rising. As carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere it absorbs more and more of the reflected infrared radiation. This could cause an increase in temperature referred to as the green house effect. Melting polar ice caps and glaciers could cause sea levels to rise, flooding most of the major population centres and fertile lands.

6. Phosgene and Methyl Isocyanate:

Phosgene (COCl2) is a poisonous and suffocating volatile liquid which is employed in dye industry and synthesis of organic compounds. Release of phosgene and MIC in industrial accident of Bhopal (Dec. 2, 1984) killed over 2500 and maimed several thousand persons.

7. Aerosols:

They are widely used as disinfectants. Other sources are jet plane emissions which contain chlorofluorocarbons. Chlorofluorocarbons are also used in refrigeration and formation of certain types of solid plastic foams. Burning of plastics produces polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The latter are persistent and pass into the food chain. Chlorofluorocarbons and carbon tetrachloride react with ozone layers of stratosphere and hence deplete the same.

8. Photochemical oxidants:

Hydrocarbons have carcinogen properties. Some of these are also harmful to plants because they cause senescence and abscission. In the presence of sunlight, hydrocarbons react with nitrogen oxides to produce ozone, peroxy-acyl nitrates, aldehydes and other compounds. Peroxy-acyl nitrates are a major constituent of air pollution. They cause eye irritation and respiratory diseases.

9. Automobile Exhausts:

They are one of the major sources of air pollution. The important pollutants are Carbon monoxide, Benzpyrene, Lead, Nitrogen oxides, Sulphur compounds and Ammonia.

10. Pollen and Microbes:

Excess of microbes in the atmosphere directly damage the vegetation, food articles and causes diseases in plants, animals and human beings. Excess of pollen causes allergic reactions in several human beings. The common reactions are also collectively called hay-fever. The important allergic pollen belong to Amaranthus spinosus, Chenopodium album, Cynodon dactylon, Ricinus communis, Sorghum vulgare, Prosopis chilensis etc.

Control of Air Pollution:

1. Industrial estates should be established at a distance from residential areas.

2. Use of tall chimneys shall reduce the air pollution in the surroundings and compulsory use of filters and electrostatic precipitators in the chimneys.

3. Removal of poisonous gases by passing the fumes through water tower scrubber or spray collector.

4. Use of high temperature incinerators for reduction in particulate ash production.

5. Development and employment of non-combustive sources of energy, e.g., nuclear power, geothermal power, solar power, tidal power, wind power, etc.

6. Use of non-lead antiknock agents in gasoline.

7. Attempt should be made to develop pollution free fuels for automobiles, e.g., alcohol, hydrogen, battery power. Automobiles should be fitted with exhaust emission controls.

8. Industrial plants and refineries should be fitted with equipment for removal and recycling of wastes.

9. Growing plants capable of fixing carbon monoxide, e.g. Phaseolus vulgaris, Coleus blumei, Daucus carota, Ficus variegata (Bidwell and Bebee, 1974).

10. Growing plants capable of metabolising nitrogen oxides and other gaseous pollutants, e.g., Vitis, Pimis, Jttniperus, Quercus, Pyrus, Robinia pseudo-acacia, Viburnum, Crataegus, Ribes, Rhamnus.

11. Afforestation of the mining area on priority basis.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“This entire planet is our home. We are the only species that systematically destroy our own habitat.”- Marianne Williamson

“One person alone cannot save the planet’s biodiversity, but each individual’s effort to encourage nature’s wealth must not be underestimated.”- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Introduction

Pollution prevention is a major global concern because of the harmful effects of pollution on a person’s health and on the environment. Environmental pollution comes in various forms, such as: air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, etc.

Everyone is a stakeholder as we are all inhabitants of this one and only mother earth. Each person can contribute something to advance environmental pollution mitigation measures. Environmental protection means caring for our resources and subsequently for ourselves and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come will have a better environment.

“If we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.”Wangari Maathai

You and I should therefore accept personal responsibility for the success of the environmental protection programs of our respective community by cooperating and actively participating in making the atmosphere pollution free. Help stop pollution today. Although on an individual basis, we can help combat pollution in our own immediate environment, efficient control can be best institutionalized through legislation. Thus, most countries have already addressed the issue by passing some form of pollution prevention measures.

Also Read: Phytoremediation- Solution to Contaminated Environment

Averting the onset of pollution in any area; i.e. be it on air, water or land, could be a start and the simplest preventive solution to the problem. This calls for a conscientious effort to adopt good practices or habits by the people, the passage and the proper implementation of appropriate government laws and strict compliance especially by potential industrial pollutants.

If there are no pollutants, there will be no pollution. And yet, this is easier said than done. Certain bad habits are entrenched and industrial development somehow carries with it the concomitant burden of pollution. The cost to business and its commercial ramifications make this rather simple preventive approach quite complicated and more difficult to implement.

Everyone can help by self education and by adopting good and healthy practices. It is also important that we help raise awareness about the significance of environmental issues, their dire consequences and what can be done.

Also Read:Bioremediation- The New Age Cleansing Technology of the Environment

Every action or inaction of any person in regard to her or his surroundings has an effect- be it good, neutral or bad- on the environment. Nature already provides for our needs. Whatever we do to it gets back to us. If we are friends of the earth, it will also be friendly to us. By becoming aware and doing the right action, we choose to be part of the solution. What comes to mind now to serve as reminders include the following:

  • Stop smoking or at least follow the “No Smoking” sign.
  • Use unleaded gasoline in your cars.
  • Keep your car properly maintained to keep it in good running condition to avoid smoke emissions.
  • Share a ride or engage in car pooling.
  • Instead of using your cars, choose to walk or ride a bicycle whenever possible. With this eco-friendly practice, you will also be healthier and happier by staying fit.
  • Never use open fires to dispose of wastes.
  • Adopt the 3Rs of solid waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle. Inorganic materials such as metals, glass and plastic; also organic materials like paper, can be reclaimed and recycled. This takes into account that the proven solution to the problem of proper waste management (especially in third world countries) is proper disposal (in waste bins for collection and not in the street where it could fall into drains), waste segregation and collection, and recycling.
  • Start composting brown leaves in your yard and green scraps from your kitchen. It will reduce waste while improving your yard and garden soils.
  • Reconnect with nature. Live green by using green power supplied abundantly and freely by wind and the sun. Hang your laundry to dry to minimize use of gas or electricity from your dryers. Enjoy fresh air from open windows to lessen the use of air conditioning system.
  • Patronize local foods and goods. In this manner, transporting goods and foods prepared with GMOs which uses fuel from conventional energy sources will be minimized.
  • Use eco-friendly or biodegradable materials instead of plastic which are made up of highly toxic substances injurious to your health.
  • Create your green space. Value your garden. Plant more trees and put indoor plants in your homes. They clean the air, provide oxygen and beautify your surroundings. Thus, care for them and by protecting them, especially the big trees around and in the forest, you protect yourself and your family, too.
  • Have a proper waste disposal system especially for toxic wastes
  • Take very good care of your pets and their wastes.
  • Never throw, run or drain or dispose into the water, air, or land any substance in solid, liquid or gaseous form that shall cause pollution.
  • Do not cause loud noises and unwanted sounds to avoid noise pollution.
  • Do not litter in public places. Anti-litter campaigns can educate the populace.
  • Industries should use fuel with lower sulphur content.
  • Industries should monitor their air emissions regularly and take measures to ensure compliance with the prescribed emission standards.
  • Industries should strictly follow applicable government regulations on pollution control.
  • Organic waste should be dumped in places far from residential areas.
  • Say a big “NO” to GMOs or genetically modified organisms. Genetically engineered crops are not only bad for the environment since they require massive amount of fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides; but GMO altered foods are also health risks and negatively impact farmers’ livelihood.

Conclusion

Breathing is life. We know that we will survive without food for several weeks and without water for few days, but without oxygen, we will die in a matter of minutes. The oxygen, the air we breathe sustains us. So, let us make today and everyday a good day for everyone. Allow the earth to have more clean air. Help control pollution.

Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn’t have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can’t imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven’t got the humility to try. We’ve been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

We must help fight Global Warming by doing the following steps:

  1. Plant more trees
  2. Don’t waste water
  3. Use cloth bag and don’t burn plastic

Also Read: Importance of National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Author

Mr. Laxmi Prasad Boda is a B.com (Hons) third year student in the Indian Institute of Management and Commerce (IIMC), Hyderabad, India. He can be contacted at laxmiprasad330[at]gmail[dot]com.

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