Many of us don’t like breathing dirty and unhealthy air whether indoors or outdoors, but what are the 3 main causes of air pollution? Anything that has life cannot survive for long if they stay in a place that’s highly polluted.
We are one of those, as well as our pets and our crops, so we need to take action to keep the air clean and healthy to breathe in. This is why we wrote this article – to help guide you about the sources of air pollution, as well as its effects on all of us.
Among the different kinds of pollution on Earth, air pollution is the most concerning since we all breathe air every single day. But where does it mostly come from? We’ll find out in the sections below.
What are the common causes of air pollution?
So, you might be wondering: what are the 3 main causes of air pollution? Let’s enumerate them below so that we’ll be more aware of where it comes from:
1. Factory emissions
There is quite a long list of air pollutants released by most factories and industries. Here are some of them (so you can be aware):
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Particulate matter
- Nitrogen oxide
Most of these chemicals and air pollutants are bad for our health when inhaled not just by people, but also plants and animals.For instance, carbon monoxide is fatal to humans and the slightest exposure could even create headaches and impairment of coordination.
Furthermore, some of these are considered greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming by means of creating the “greenhouse effect”. This effect traps heat on Earth due to staying in the atmosphere – hence, our temperatures rise at an abnormal rate.
Even though there are attempts to modernize some industries to help Mother Earth and steer clear from harmful emissions, unfortunately, not all factories are eco-friendly – especially those areas with little education regarding environmental safety.
2. Fossil fuels
Fossil fuels can be found in all sorts of places. The major usage of fossil fuels in today’s world includes the following fields:
- power plants
- factories and other industrial uses
Petroleum and coal are derived from burning fossil fuels. Not only are they limited in supply (future generations might not get some) but we also get to inhale harsh compounds such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, which can harm our ozone layer and our lungs.
By using petroleum products, especially the less filtered ones, we are not only harming the environment but also damaging our health (and that of our descendants). This is especially the case for older vehicles with not-so-clean combustion.
3. Using harsh chemicals
Harsh chemicals can come from various places, but the industry that contributes a lot to put up these toxic pollutants in the air is the agricultural sector. Their usage of pesticides can also dump particles into the air (not just the soil).
These pesticides and insecticides contain ammonia because that’s what works fast against critters. While there are eco-friendly options, not all farmers agree to use them due to pricing and lack of marketability (at the moment).
Another harsh chemical that gets into the air is methane, which is a greenhouse gas (as mentioned earlier) and is gathered from landfill waste. A major contributor to producing methane is throwing away e-waste (old phones, tablets, gadgets, and the like).
Cleaning products at home could also contribute to air pollution – especially if you don’t have good ventilation indoors. VOCs or volatile organic compounds can come from a variety of items you can find at home, such as:
- toilet cleaners
- household cleaners
- solvents and adhesives
- polishing products
- laundry products
Fortunately, more and more companies are starting to manufacture eco-friendlier counterparts of their products. However, it is still too costly – especially for poorer countries that can only afford the cheaper, generic ones. Regardless, hopefully, these eco-friendlier products will succeed in the market someday.
What are the effects of air pollution?
Air pollution is an alarming problem mostly because it has negative effects on humans, pets, crops, and the world around us. Here are some ways air pollution lessens the quality of our lives:
Did you know that global warming is also caused by air pollution? Because we throw harsh chemicals into the sky, this causes the “greenhouse effect”, causing temperatures to rise, glaciers to melt easily, and animals to relocate.
Lung and heart problems
Can bad air quality make you sick? It certainly can – especially with regard to your lungs and heart. Respiratory and circulatory system problems are common if you live in an area with bad air quality, such as near a factory. These problems can be fatal if not treated and prevented.
Contribution to acid rain
Fossil fuel burning, as well as other gases in the air, are gathered by clouds alongside water vapor. This, in turn, creates acid rain, which makes our normal rain more threatening to living creatures. It can destroy crops and building structures.
Displacement of animals
As mentioned above, animals moving from place to place to find food is an effect of global warming, which is due to air pollution. Aside from that, chemical-rich air will also contaminate some crops and plants, which can negatively affect the food supply for animals, so they have to move somewhere else.
Children get affected
Mental health disorders, as well as developmental problems, are likely to happen if your child was exposed to the harsh chemicals and other types of air pollution mentioned above. These mostly occur during pregnancy but can also happen while they’re still young.
So, if you want to protect your child against these health problems early on, you’ll have to keep them away from dirty air. Some parents get the best air purifier for the nursery to keep their little ones safe from harmful pollutants.
Marine life gets disrupted
As the sea gets warmer due to global warming caused by air pollution, algae also form (a lot) while the temperatures can also cause some sea creatures to die easily. While some survive, others need to relocate and the ecosystem gets disrupted.
What is the number 1 cause of air pollution?
Air pollution is mostly caused by transport emissions. Since transportation is very much needed in the world today, it’s no surprise that it is the major contributing factor to air pollution. Not everyone owns a hybrid electric car and not everyone uses eco-friendly fuel.
Either way, there are more causes of air pollution than vehicle emissions. For further reading, we also have a guide regarding the 10 reasons why air pollution is a problem. We hope this can also help you regarding the causes of air pollution.
What are the examples of air pollution?
Air pollution is all around us, yet we sometimes fail to notice it. Among the most common examples of air pollution that you can find every day are:
- smoke from a car
- cigarette smoke
- household chemicals
- factory smoke or emissions
if we can find a way to lessen these air pollution sources, we can become part of the solution to fighting climate change and leaving more for our future generations.
What is the main cause of air pollution at home?
Cooking smells are common sources of air pollution at home, as well as pet dander, household chemicals, and mold. If someone smokes in your home, tobacco smoke can be a contributing factor. To help solve this problem, we wrote a guide about 10 ways to reduce air pollution at home.
Can burning leaves cause air pollution?
Yes, it can. Burning your garden leaves can not only negatively affect people with allergies but it also releases carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into the air, which contributes to global warming. Most people just do compost instead of burning them.
Is particulate matter harmful to our health?
Yes! Particulate matter, or PM for short, is still a threat and is classified as an air pollutant. It can affect humans by causing lung problems, coughing, irritation, and even heart problems. Fortunately, many homes now have an air purifier for cough, as well as for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.
How can we reduce air pollution emitted by factories?
The answer is simple – we can start by reducing our electrical consumption. Since most electricity companies in the world still depend on coal and fossil fuels (which are not eco-friendly), the best we can all do is to stick to energy-efficient devices and ways to reduce costs. Going for solar lights can also help.
So, when someone asks you “what are the 3 main causes of air pollution?”, point them to this article. Air pollution affects all of us – plants, animals, and humans – so we must all get involved. The simple usage of a bicycle going to work instead of a car can help reduce vehicle emissions, resulting in cleaner air.
We hope that our guide helped you realize where air pollution is coming from – and what we can all do to stop or minimize it. After all, our future generations will suffer if we don’t control air pollution today.