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What are the Causes of air Pollution



Air Pollution can be defined as the presence of any solid, liquid, or gaseous substance including noise present in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or the environment.

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Air pollution is probably one of the most serious environmental problems confronting our civilization today. Most often, it is caused by human activities such as mining, construction, transportation, industrial work, agriculture, smelting, etc. However, natural processes such as volcanic eruptions and wildfires may also pollute the air, but their occurrence is rare and they usually have a local effect, unlike human activities that are ubiquitous causes of air pollution and contribute to the global pollution of the air every single day. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) made guidelines to protect the environment from Air pollution.

Ambient air quality monitoring is being carried out in various cities & towns in India under the National Air Monitoring Programme (NAMP) under the supervision of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Air quality data generated over the years reveal that particulate matter concentrations are exceeding the standard permissible limits at many places, particularly in urban areas. Based on these data, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) identified more than 50 non-attainment cities and towns including 16 major cities, which recorded significantly higher levels of SPM & RSPM (PM10). These cities have problems due to the multiplicity and complexity of air-polluting sources (e.g. industries, automobiles, generator sets, fuel burning, construction activities, etc.) and even the background contribution of natural dust (crustal origin) cannot be ruled out, particularly, in the cities developed on alluvial plains having loose topsoil. Due to the multiplicity and complexity of air-polluting sources, apportionment of these sources indicating their contribution to ambient air pollution is vital for planning cost-effective control strategies.

The Causes of Air Pollution

Emissions from Industrial Plants and Manufacturing Activities

  • The maximum percentage of total pollutants can be produced by an industrial process. High levels of smoke, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter are emitted into the air. In a distinctive industrial plant, for instance, it is easy to notice the long chimneys or smokestacks erected into the air, emitting large amounts of fumes and smoke from it.
  • Industrial plants, factories, and power plants release high amounts of organic compounds, chemicals, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide into the air. Industrial plants that refine petroleum, manufacture cement, produce metals such as steel and aluminium, process plastics, or manufacture chemical products are among the industries and manufacturing activities that release lots of foreign harmful materials into the air.
  • Most manufacturing plants discharge the pollutants in small quantities, but continuously over extended time periods that eventually lead to cumulative negative effects. In some cases, manufacturing plants have accidentally emitted a maximum no of Air pollution in a very short time span which has lead to enormous harm to human beings and animal health and destroyed plant life.

Combustion from fossils fuels

  • In the Present day, fossil fuel combustion is the biggest contributor to Air Pollution the leading source today is traffic, but factories and power plants also continue to contribute to some extent. Standard power plants that combust fossil fuels to produce energy emit hazardous gases such as nitrogen oxide, Carbon Monoxide, particulates, and hydrocarbons into the air. The number of vehicles on our roads are overwhelming and increasing, with an estimated number of more than 25.3 million cars on the road. Commercial vehicles, shipping vessels, trains, and aeroplanes also combust lots of fossil fuels to function. All these transportation services are power-driven by diesel and CNG engines that combust petroleum to produce energy. Petroleum contains hydrocarbons. Thus, in the process of combustion, it releases Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), lead, and particulate matter into the air. Collectively, these are the major contributors to air pollution and have persisted as one of the most challenging to manage because transportation is an important aspect of human life.

Farming chemicals and Domestic products

  • The use of domestic and farming chemicals produces substantial amounts of injurious substances into the atmosphere and have the potential to cause air pollution. The dusting of crops, painting supplies, home disinfect, household cleaning products, fertilizer powder, insect/pets spray, hair sprays, and deodorant sprays release harmful chemicals into the air, these are the small but continuous discharge air pollutant in the air. Heavy discharge of these chemicals within a small area can be hazardous and can cause serious health and breathing problems. Since they are regularly used products, they also qualify as major causes of air pollution as they release toxic particles and chemical gases into the Environment.

Natural Causes of Air Pollution

  • The majority of people only believe air pollution as a consequence of human activity. In some cases, natural events can as well cause air pollution. However, they are rarely witnessed, and some of them are very disastrous and difficult to prevent from happening. 

The Following Natural Events Cause Air Pollution

Natural Causes

  • Volcanic activities  volcanic eruptions emit a series of toxic gases including sulfur and chlorine as well as particulate matter (ash particles) but are usually restricted to localized areas;
  • Winds and air currents – can mobilize pollutants from the ground and transport them over large areas;
  • Wildfires – add carbon monoxide, as well as particulate matter, to the atmosphere (containing organic contaminants such as PAHs); could affect significant areas, although in general they are restricted and may be contained;
  • Microbial decaying processes Microorganisms which are present in any environment have a major role in the natural decaying processes of living organisms as well as environmental contaminants; this activity results in the natural release of gases, especially methane gas;
  • Radioactive decay processes  for example, radon gas is emitted due to natural decay processes of Earth’s crust which has the potential to accumulate in enclosed spaces such as basements;
  • Increasing temperatures contribute to an increase in the amounts of contaminants volatilizing from polluted soil and water into the air.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.


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