Most of us are exposed to dirty urban air, tobacco smoke, and vehicle emissions, but it can be a problem for our health and environment, so here are the 10 reasons why air pollution is a problem. Because air pollution is something that has become part of our lives, it will be difficult to get rid of it entirely.
However, by being aware of how dangerous it can be to the environment and to our health, we can reduce the effects of pollution on humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Therefore, we want to share what we know with you so that you’ll be aware of how air pollution is a problem.
Why is air pollution such a problem?
Air pollution comes from various sources, such as fossil fuels, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from household chemicals, tobacco smoke, and more. To help answer this question, we listed 10 reasons why air pollution is a problem:
1. It hinders tree and crop growth
While the ozone layer is a helpful barrier against the UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun, if we inhale it here at ground level, it is not just harmful to humans and animals, but also to plants. Ozone can negatively affect photosynthesis, which means your plant can get damaged.
Photosynthesis is hindered in plants by ozone because the plant cell membrane function is disrupted. Therefore, plants cannot make food (energy) properly. As you can see, the effect of air pollution on plant life is quite harsh since it hinders their growth and abundance – and we might not have much to eat!
2. You won’t see the road clearly
Smog, caused by emissions from factories, not only makes the sky darker but also causes poor visibility. If you’re driving on a road in a city where smog is very thick, it will be difficult to navigate compared to going on a trip to a place with less smog.
3. Acid rain can form
Acid rain is one of the biggest threats not just to plants but also to buildings and structures. We’ll have fewer sturdy homes and offices due to excessive acid rain, which comes from the mixture of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide – two harmful gases in the air – which goes into the sky along with water vapor.
When plants get their nutrients from the soil, there is also a chance of getting harsh chemicals that came from acid rain. Sulfur dioxide, characterized by leaf discoloration, is a threat to your plant’s health. This chemical comes from acid rain and can drain the plant of water needed for its growth.
4. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases get trapped in the atmosphere and also disable most heat from escaping the earth. In short, we absorb more heat from the sun, causing the “greenhouse effect”. Most of them also destroy the ozone layer.
This is why greenhouse gas emissions are greatly regulated because they are contributing to climate change and global warming. If we don’t take action now, we’ll suffer later on and our future generations won’t have a cool and comfortable climate anymore.
5. It’s bad for your heart health
Air pollution can be one of the major causes of heart and circulatory diseases. Some types of air pollutants get into the bloodstream and narrow the vessels, making it difficult for the body to pump blood properly. Nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are known to restrict blood vessels, causing heart problems.
This is particularly alarming for people with a medical history of heart problems – especially seniors. Therefore, if you live with old folks, they need to have quality indoor air to avoid putting them at risk of circulatory system health issues.
6. They can cause irritation
Some air pollutants, such as benzene, can be found in the air and affect people. You could have eye, skin, or nose irritation and you might also have a sore throat. This will certainly make you feel unpleasant at work, in school, or wherever you are.
7. Pollution weakens your lungs
Your lungs are in danger if you inhale dirty air. Among the many problems that can occur if you inhale air pollution include respiratory system illnesses. For instance, it can trigger COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis, and the like.
8. Birth defects can happen
Babies exposed to air pollution are more prone to birth defects and brain-altering problems in the future. Some studies have linked cognitive development with air pollution – particularly during the mother’s pregnancy (prenatal).
9. You’ll feel dizzy and unfocused
This is quite common sense but air pollution causing eye irritation and the like, as well as difficulty in breathing, will make you feel unfocused in your daily life. Moreover, harsh chemicals in the air can cause you to feel nauseous.
10. It’s bad for asthmatics and allergy suffers
Air pollution is particularly bad for people with asthma and allergic rhinitis, as well as sinusitis since the particulate matter will trigger their symptoms. This is why such people are recommended to have an air purifier for asthma and allergies.
Why is pollution a problem for the environment?
As mentioned above, air pollution is a threat to the environment because chemicals can affect farms and forests. The three most common (and deadly) chemicals that can negatively impact plants are:
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Sulphur dioxide
When these chemicals fall into the soil, they could hinder a plant’s growth and health. If the plant is part of a big field where we harvest food, this can be a huge problem for us consumers – we could be eating a small percentage of contaminated soil!
Furthermore, air pollution can also cause weather problems – part of the phenomenon called global warming. Because greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are trapped in the ozone layer, it affects the world temperature. Ice melts in the northern regions faster, causing our oceans to rise in level.
The warming of the world disrupts ecosystems. For instance, some plants die out easily and some animals need to relocate since they can’t find food anymore due to the change in weather.
What is the biggest pollution problem?
Air pollution is, by far, the most threatening pollution problem of all. Since the air we breathe is all around us, more people, plants, and animals can get affected by it. Here’s why:
- Carbon emissions greatly contribute to global warming
- The harsh chemicals we breathe can make all living creatures sick
- Plants and animals can be displaced due to climate change
While all other types of pollution (water, noise, and land) are also threatening, air pollution is more directly involved with our lives since we need air to breathe. If we don’t do something against air pollution today, it can negatively affect our future generations and they will need to live in a toxic environment.
How is pollution affecting the earth?
As mentioned above, climate change greatly involves air pollution because global warming is caused by greenhouse gases, causing the “greenhouse effect” and warming the temperature of the Earth. This, in turn, changes marine life and causes some animals to be displaced due to a lack of food.
Additionally, the greenhouse effect that causes global warming gives birth to more air pollution. Warmer temperatures are more prone to certain chemical reactions made by ground-level ozone (not the ozone layer!). This toxic ozone causes health issues, such as coughing and other breathing-related problems.
What is PM 2.5?
Particulate matter that is less than or equal to 2.5 microns in size is called fine particles or PM 2.5 for short. This refers to particles in the air of that size, such as tobacco and fireplace smoke. A level of 35 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air) is the recommended threshold (limit) for PM 2.5 particles.
Can air pollution be a problem indoors?
Yes! If you often stay indoors, you’re still susceptible to air pollution due to certain pollutants that you may inhale. So, what are the 4 major indoor air pollutants? We have a guide for that so that you’ll know how to deal with these sources of air pollution.
Do rural areas also have air pollution?
Yes, some rural areas do have their shares of air pollution, such as coming from burning trash and gas emissions. If you’re on a farm, chances are, you’ll inhale smelly gasoline due to machinery fuel. Therefore, air pollution is not just an urban problem – it’s a worldwide problem.
With the 10 reasons why air pollution is a problem, we hope that we helped you realize just how serious of a threat dirty air can be to your health and to the world around us. Air pollution will always be here to stay – it’s just a matter of us handling it properly to avoid its bad effects.
Air pollution is a serious problem because it affects not just humans but also plants, animals, and everything in our lives and in our world. We hope that this guide helped you realize the effects of air pollution – and what we can all do about it.