WHAT IS AIR POLLUTION? 

Air pollution is a mix of gases, chemicals, dust, pollen, and mold.

Particulate matter is a term used to describe small particles suspended in the air, including dust, soot, smoke, and other microscopic particles.
Particulate matter is very small. In fact, it’s worse than other types of air pollutants precisely because it’s very easy for people to breathe. These
particles can get stuck in the lungs and can even get into our blood.

In other words, many people live in places where air quality is poor. For this reason, millions of people die each year. Overall, air pollution harms our health.  It is one of the major global causes of death. 

Together we’ll learn more about air quality and our health. Finally, we’ll consider what we can do to help. Let’s get started!

air pollution harms our health

Air pollution is a mix of gases, chemicals, dust, pollen, and mold.

Particulate matter is a term used to describe small particles suspended in the air, including dust, soot, smoke, and other microscopic particles.
Particulate matter is very small. In fact, it’s worse than other types of air pollutants precisely because it’s very easy for people to breathe. These
particles can get stuck in the lungs and can even get into our blood.

How does air pollution affect health?

Air pollution has been linked to a range of health problems, including respiratory problems, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants in the air can irritate the airways, causing inflammation and making it difficult to breathe. This can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD, which can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and people with existing health conditions.

Long-term exposure to air pollution can also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Particles in the air can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation, leading to the formation of plaques in the arteries and an increased risk of heart disease.

In addition, some air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are known carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer. Exposure to these pollutants can increase the risk of cancer and other health problems.

Recent studies found nearly 8.8 million people die due to air pollution, which is nearly 1 in 8 deaths. Health problems caused by air pollution include respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lung damage.

Around 91% of the world’s population is in
danger, which is also one of the major global causes of death. In other words, many people live in places where air quality is poor. Reducing exposure to air pollution can help to reduce the risk of these health problems and prevent premature death.

Indoor Pollution

  • Smoke and gas from cooking and fireplaces
  • Building materials like flooring, glue, and
    formaldehyde in insulation and carpeting
  • Home products like sprays and cleaners
  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Chemicals from paint and varnish
  • Mold

Outdoor Pollution

  • Smoke and gas from cooking and fireplaces
  • Building materials like flooring, glue, and
    formaldehyde in insulation and carpeting
  • Home products like sprays and cleaners
  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Chemicals from paint and varnish
  • Mold

Dangerous Outdoor Air Pollutants:

  • Particulate matter (small molecules of dust, dirt, soot, and smoke in the air)
  • Ground Level Ozone (the main ingredient in smog)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (primarily found in fertilizers)
  • Sulfur Dioxide (from the burning of fossil fuels)

Sources of Outdoor Air Pollutants:

Transportation: Vehicles emit harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter into the air, contributing to air pollution.

Industrial activities: Manufacturing, construction, and other industrial activities release harmful chemicals into the air, including sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

Power generation: Power plants that rely on fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, release harmful chemicals and particulate matter into the air.

Agriculture: Livestock production and the use of fertilizers can release harmful chemicals into the air.

Natural sources: Forest fires, dust storms, and volcanic eruptions can also contribute to air pollution.

HOW BIG IS THE AIR POLLUTION PROBLEM?

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought….Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution.” Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the World Health Organization’s Department for Public Health

In conclusion, scientists agree that more work is needed to improve air quality.

82% of people live in developing countries. They are at a higher risk for air pollution problems because of:

  • Lack of environmental regulations
  • Rapid industrial growth without adequate control measures.
  • Heavy reliance on fossil fuels for energy.
  • Unplanned urbanization, leading to increased vehicle emissions and construction activities.
  • Unsustainable agricultural practices, such as slash and burn.
  • Lack of resources to invest in clean technologies and control measures.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT REDUCING AIR POLLUTION?

Reducing air pollution makes a healthier world for everyone. For instance, cleaner transportation and better sources of power both reduce pollution. Another example is energy-efficient waste management.  All together these changes will improve health. Finally, these air-friendly changes decrease climate pollutants. Thus, creating healthy lifestyles.

People can fight air pollution with social media. Firstly, social media increases the voices of concerned people. This allows people who want change to be heard. Secondly, these people can also inspire others.  Together we can grow environmental discussions. Thirdly, social media is a way for everyone to learn that air pollution harms our health.

HOW CAN YOU HELP IMPROVE AIR QUALITY WHERE YOU LIVE?

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