Causes Effects Air Pollution Essay
Vehicles crowding roadways, power plants pumping smoke and chemicals from consumer products have many people thinking about air pollution and how it affects the planet. Air pollution is a complicated problem with many causes and effects and few solutions. Reducing air pollution and its effects will require the cooperation of people everywhere.
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The general term “air pollution” refers to “undesirable amounts of particulate or gaseous matter in the atmosphere” according to the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board. Air pollution can occur naturally during a forest fire, dust storm or volcanic eruption, but the biggest source of pollution for the past 100 years has been humankind.
The two main forms of outdoor air pollution include particulate matter, sometimes called black carbon pollution, and noxious gases. Burning fossil fuels to power vehicles, homes and industrial plants releases tiny particles of matter into the air, according to information from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Noxious gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide react with the sun to create new and dangerous compounds, including smog and acid rain. Dr. Cheryl E. Merritt of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute reports that carbon monoxide accounts for the majority of pollution from human activity and that exhaust creates most of that carbon monoxide.
The particulate matter and noxious gases floating in the atmosphere can trap solar heat in a process known as the greenhouse effect. Ideally, the sun’s rays should penetrate the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface should reflect excess radiation back out of the atmosphere. However, air pollution bounces some of that excess heat back down to Earth and contributes to climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency reports on its website that if the current trend of rising temperatures continues, it could lead to the melting of the polar icebergs, rising sea levels and flooding in coastal areas. Air pollution’s destruction of the ozone layer exacerbates the problem of the greenhouse effect and leads to its own complications. The ozone layer serves as a filter limiting the sun’s ultraviolet, or UV, radiation entering the atmosphere. Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, carbon dioxide and other ozone depleters react with the sun’s radiation and break down to their component atoms, which then rob the ozone of oxygen atoms. Currently, the ozone layer’s concentration decreases by about 2 percent each year, allowing for more and more UV radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. The increase in radiation can cause skin cancer, damage to the human immune system and eye damage. It also kills small aquatic organisms like plankton, affecting marine food chains and releasing additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when the life forms decompose.
Many people are affected by air pollution, whether or not they know it. FuelEconomy.gov reports that in 2007, about 150 million Americans lived in areas where monitored air pollution reached unhealthy levels. Although industry does cause air pollution, the vehicles crowding the highways produce many, if not most, of the chemicals that cause smog and pollution-related health problems.
In this industrial age, air pollution cannot be eliminated completely, but steps can be taken to reduce it. The government has developed, and continues to develop, guidelines for air quality and ordinances to restrict emissions in an effort to control air pollution, reports Dr. Cheryl E. Merritt of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. On an individual level, you can reduce your contribution to the pollution problem by carpooling or using public transportation. Additionally, buying energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances or otherwise reducing your electricity use will reduce the pollutants released in the production of electricity, which creates the majority of America’s industrial air pollution, according to the Oberlin College Resource Conservation Team.
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A cause and effect essay is a type of essay that explains why the event or the situation occurs (causes) and the results of its happening (effects). Writing a cause and effect essay takes students lots efforts cause the main idea of writing such an essay is to examine the reasons and the results of the phenomenon. But as for the structure, a cause and effect essay outline is simple: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. If you are assigned to write a cause and effect essay here is a list of great cause and effect essay topics.
50 BEST IDEAS FOR CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY TOPICS
In case you are looking for cause and effect essay examples, you can read the one below.
Air Pollution Poignant Matters
Air pollution refers to a chemical, physical or biological alteration to the atmospheric air. It results whenever harmful gasses, smoke, or dust enters the atmosphere and in turn, hinders the survival of animals and plants as the air contains toxic substances.
The survival of human beings and animals greatly depend on the combination of gasses in the atmosphere; slight disruption of this composition can cause devastating effects on their existence. An imbalance in these atmospheric gasses is known to result in global warming, a great threat to the contemporary world. We cannot underestimate the effects air pollution has on the ozone layer which largely contributes to the existence of organisms on the planet.
Causes of Air Pollution
For the causes of air pollution to be well articulated, it is important to delve into the types of air pollutants. Air pollutants can be caused by secondary and primary sources. If a process directly results to pollution, then this forms the primary source. For instance, factories emit sulfur dioxide which is a primary source of air pollution. Reactions and interactions between primary sources form the secondary pollutant. For instance, the intermingling of primary pollutants forms smog which is a secondary pollutant.
Burning of fossil fuels
The main cause of air pollution is burning of coal, gasoline, petroleum, and other fossil fuels. These fuels are the main cause of acid rain, smog, greenhouse gas emissions, and presence of heavy metals in the air.
Fossil fuels form an important part of the society; they are used in transportation, heating, manufacturing, and even in electricity generation. This makes them an important part of the society making it difficult (but not uncontrollable) to curtail. In modern society, the use of fossil fuels can be made so that its burning becomes efficient, but this comes with a monetary cost. It is important to note that unless alternative cleaner option is found, we will have the future facing the same problems of pollution.
Increased use of motor vehicles, and emission of nitrogen
Vehicles use fuel which sometimes is not completely burnt in the engine; therefore, they release VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) into the air. VOCs and nitrogen are a common source of air pollution.
Decomposition of garbage and solid wastes
Disposal sites containing biodegradable substances are known to emit methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane gas is known to be a harmful gas, it is highly flammable and a potential disaster to the ozone layer. Garbage and other household products release VOCs to the air.
Air pollution can come from natural sources such as dust, wildfires, and volcanic activity. Wildfire is known to emit VOCs and particulates into the atmosphere. Volcanic eruptions spew sulfur dioxide and volcanic ash into the atmosphere. Volcanic ash is usually dumped in the upper atmosphere, and as a result, global temperatures are lowered. However, pollution resulting from natural causes remains in the atmosphere for a short period and does not result in a permanent change as it might be the case with human activity-based pollution.
Effects of Air Pollution
1. Respiratory infections
Air pollution is the leading cause of respiratory diseases. Exposure to air pollutants can cause lung cancer and even asthma. Asthma can lead to death if not well treated, as it might cause difficulty in breathing. A prolonged exposure of pollutants can cause lung cancer.
2. Global warming
The rise in sea level, rising temperature in the world, and the melting of ice glaciers are the evidence for the global warming. Global warming is a direct effect of air pollution in the world. The only way to curb this increasingly destructive menace is to reduce air pollution.
3. Depletion of ozone layer
With the greenhouse effect which is the major contributor of the release of chlorofluorocarbon into the atmosphere has led to the depletion of ozone layer. This layer is important in shielding the earth from the destructive ultraviolet (UV) radiations.
4. Formation of acid rain
Emission of harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen into the atmosphere lead to the formation of acid rain. It is quite common for rain water to have sulfuric acid due to rampant cases of air pollution in the modern society. Acid rain is a major threat to the aquatic life as well as human beings.
There are carcinogenic substances in the acid rain, and it has devastating effects to even metal which can be observed by the extent of corrosion that often results.
Air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide speed up the growth of algae on the water surface. This growth competes with aquatic life for oxygen, therefore, posing a major threat to fishing. The only way to reduce the devastating effects of air pollution will be to come up with effective ways of reducing air pollution.
Earth’s atmosphere has a self-regulating mechanism that ensures sequestration of carbon among other pollutants. The mechanism works to ensure that the ecosystem is not affected by the changes occurring in the atmosphere. However, if people continue to add more pollutants than the earth is able to remove, then the response will be increased smog, acid rain, global warming and a number of health problems.
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