What are the top five causes of air pollution?

Air pollution is caused by both natural as well as anthropogenic factors. The various causes of air pollution in the natural facet have been prevalent from a very long time but it begun to be a problem only because of increased human interference. Human activities have adversely aggravated the emission rate in leaps and bounds which have made the situation go beyond capable of being handled.

Air pollution is susceptible to cause more harm to kids rather than adults. This happens due to their heightened concentration of air impurities in their body.
The European nations are capable of saving around 161 billion Euros in a year only if the mortality rates could be reduced considerably due to air pollution.It is observed that mostly in larger cities there is the presence of 80% of fatal pollutants. These pollutants cause lung damage which is mainly emitted by motor vehicles on the road.It has been observed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that there are deaths equally accountable caused due to air pollution as many as deaths which have been caused due to car accidents.

Vehicular exhaust contributes about 60% of the total Carbon Monoxide gases and emissions that occur in the United Stated with exceeding about 90% in the larger and more developed cities.

The case of the ‘The Great Smog’ which happened in London in the year of 1952 was one the worst incidents of air pollution which was responsible for around over 8000 casualties. The main reason of air pollution that is seen in Europe is because of the increased road transport which is responsible for about 5000 human deaths per year due to lung cancer and heart attacks is happening from vehicular exhaust fumes.

Main Causes leading to Air Pollution

Air pollution is a phenomenon which occurs when the air is saturated with suspended particulate matter. The largest source of air pollution that is observed in cities is vehicular exhaust emissions. Carbon monoxide is supposedly the largest air pollutant that is recognised in the US which is also emitted by the exhausts of the vehicles prying on the road. This gas is a harmful, poisonous, odourless and also colourless gas which is formed when there is burning of fossil fuels like coals, petroleum or natural gas. When the filters aren’t replaced or maintained regularly of the air conditioners dirt gets accumulated which spread pollutants inside our homes itself. Toxic and chemical pollutants like sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) reacts with water to produce acid rain in the atmosphere. These pollutants are mainly let out by factories, automobiles, industrial and manufacturing plants. Also formation of huge quantity of dust and dirt are produced in agricultural fields and construction sites. Even when there is usage of household chemicals without proper ventilation it leads to indoor air pollution. Whereas naturally air pollution is caused by volcanoes, forest fires and dust storms.

  • Agricultural Activities – A very fundamental byproduct of agricultural activities is Ammonia. It is one of the most hazardous and poisonous gas that is prevalent in the atmosphere. The usage of insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers too has aggravated a lot due to the green revolution. This also causes water pollution.
  • Burning of Fossil Fuels – Sulphur dioxide which is produced from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum are one of many major causes of air pollution. Pollution from vehicular exhaust emission is also a big problem which includes airplanes as well. Suspended particulate (SPM) are the particles afloat in the air which are caused by dust or when combustion is left incomplete. Nitrogen Oxides are let out by both natural and man-made factors.
  • Exhaust from Factories and Industries – Industries and factories release huge amounts of harmful gaseous matter like hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, organic compounds along with numerous chemicals hampering the air quality. Petroleum refineries release hydrocarbons along with other chemicals.
  • Mining Operations – Through mining all the natural resources like minerals that are stored inside the earth surface are excavated with the help of huge equipments and even explosives. Huge amount of dust and other suppressed chemicals are released thus into the atmosphere during this process. Mining thus hampers the health conditions of both workers and also the nearby residents.
  • Indoor Air Pollution – There are many household products like the cleaning, painting which are capable to emitting toxic chemicals in the air causing pollution.

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