How We Are Being Affected by Air Pollution
What Causes Air Pollution?
Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles of certain gases that float in the air. These particles and gases can come from a variety of sources, such as coal, oil, gas and coal ash. Air pollution occurs when solid or liquid particles (aerosols) from the combustion of fossil fuels and other sources enter our air and cause air pollution.
Air pollution refers to the release into the air of pollutants that harm human health and the planet as a whole. Air pollution is defined as a direct result of human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, industrial activities and industrial pollution. Pollution from industrial processes, cleaning agents, transport, agriculture and other activities takes a heavy toll on air quality.
Air pollution occurs when gases and particulates enter the air and harmful levels are reached. Although not new, the threat to the environment, humans and animal life has reached new levels, not only in the United States but also in other countries around the world. The most common and dangerous air pollutants include ozone, fine dust, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
The most common sources of air pollution are coal, oil, natural gas, coal ash, diesel fuel and industrial waste. Most man-made air pollutants, such as emissions from cars, trucks and power plants, are in the form of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Most pollutants are by-products of fossil fuel combustion, but their composition may vary depending on the source. The most unhealthy air pollutants are those that penetrate deep into the lungs and can trigger reactions with surface defense cells.
Just like a car engine, power plants should theoretically produce nothing worse than carbon dioxide and water, but in practice these fuels are dirty, they do not burn cleanly, and they can cause harmful air pollution. Industrial plants that produce metals such as aluminum and steel, refining oil, making cement, synthesizing plastics, and other chemicals are among the plants that produce the goods we depend on. These plants, as well as those that produce coal, oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, often emit small but significant amounts of pollution into the air.
How is Air Pollution Measured?
In the US, one measure of outdoor air pollution is the Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures air conditions across the country by the amount of fine particulate matter in the air and the concentration of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and fine dust. Air pollution from cars, trucks, power plants, and other industrial installations are just a few examples of common pollutants.
The AQI was created to monitor and report air quality throughout the day and to inform people of its potential health effects, such as asthma, heart disease, or lung cancer. In response to changing air quality levels, the AQI provides real-time monitoring and alarms. It also gives counsel on the most proficient method to improve air quality by proposing social changes, for example, diminishing the carbon footprint.
There is also the AIRNow widget that allows you to quickly determine whether or not air quality is unhealthy. You can also get the latest air quality forecasts from the Air Quality Hotline.
A Year Average Common Air Quality Index (YACAQI) is defined by normalizing various pollutants and sub-indices separately to a value typically near unity. The EPA sets the acceptable limit at 100. An AQI below 100 is considered to be satisfactory and anything above is deemed unhealthy air. An AQI of 50 or less represents good air quality, while an AQI of 250 represents very unhealthy air quality. Anything over 300 means the air presents hazardous conditions such as high levels of fine particulate matter. While moderate (51-100) air quality is acceptable it can pose a moderate health risk to pregnant women, children with respiratory diseases, people who have been unusually sensitive to air pollution, and people with other health conditions.
Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air pollution from contributes to a wide range of health problems, including asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases.
The use of environmentally friendly cleaners will help to reduce the volatile chemicals that enter the air. Vacuum cleaners using HEPA filters help reduce the amount of dust generated when vacuuming. You may also want to consider an air purifier that can help reduce indoor pollutants in your home. There are also air purifiers that can kill large amounts of bacteria in the air.
Indoor air quality (IAQ)is defined as the air content in a specific place that is free of pollution. Air quality alerts include specific measures people can take to reduce their pollution, such as air filters, air quality monitoring systems, and air pollution control systems. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is the framework used to caution the public when contaminated air is hazardous.
When we talk about indoor air quality, it is easy to focus on the effects on our health, because the air we breathe has direct contact with all parts of our body. It is easy for us to forget that we breathe air in so many different ways that most of the problems in our air are invisible to the naked eye. In reality, there are many other, less conspicuous factors contributing to indoor air pollution. Since the problem air usually produces very little odor and is not perceptible with the naked eye, it is not necessary to do it alone with the nose in order to detect problems with the room air in the home. Even if you have moved away from the source of irritation, you can still breathe in air from other parts of your home.
Global Statistics on Air Pollution
Air pollution is a serious problem affecting the health of people in countries around the world. Ozone and particulate matter pollution can cause respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, lung cancer and even heart attack.
India has more asthma deaths than any other country, according to the World Health Organization, and has the highest air pollution rate in the world since the 1970s.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in nine deaths worldwide is linked to air pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that limiting ground-level ozone concentrations to 65 parts per billion could prevent more than 2.5 million premature deaths in the United States, compared to the 75-ppb standard. The WHO estimates that air pollutants cause 1.3 million deaths in cities in India each year.
Air pollution can harm human health and the WHO air quality guidelines recommend air pollution levels of no more than 30 parts per million cubic meters.
For four decades, the US federal government and individual states have been monitoring and measuring air pollution and controlling pollutant emissions through permits and enforceable requirements. For example, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation contains data and information on air pollution for the entire state of New York.
No one is safe from air pollution, and the United Nations warns that nine out of ten people on the planet now breathe polluted air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there is a link between air quality and respiratory diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and cancer. Air pollutants such as PM2.5 and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are linked to lung disease, asthma and other health problems, as well as cancer and heart disease.
More than 300,000 people die each year in China from heart disease and lung cancer caused by air pollution. Air pollution caused by smog affects dolphins, leaving them suffering from black lung disease, according to the World Health Organization.
Although the 37 million people affected by these diseases are tiny compared to the 5.9 billion people who breathe polluted air, the overall impact of air pollution is much greater. There are millions of premature deaths worldwide every year linked to air pollution.
In Europe, 90% of city individuals are exposed to air pollutants at amounts higher than what is considered safe to human health.
The effects of poor air quality are far-reaching. Air pollutants released in one country can be transported through the atmosphere resulting in worse air quality elsewhere. Some types of air pollution can travel many kilometers, such as ozone, and smoke from forest fires.
In the US air pollution levels are measured daily in more than 800 counties across the country and assessed according to whether they pose an immediate risk to the public. The EPA sets the AQI values and sets air quality standards for each district, to inform the public about local air quality and recommends measures that people can take to avoid exposure to air pollutants.
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