Air Pollution Effects and Solutions

The most common effects of air pollution are respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as sinus irritations. Over a longer period of time, air pollution can cause cancer, lung and heart disease, and even brain damage. Air pollution also leads to acid rain, which harms wildlife and manmade structures. Learn how to reduce air pollution and protect yourself from harmful air pollution effects with our guide below.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Over the past century or so, air pollution has quickly become a major threat to our environment as well as our health. Since the Industrial Age, progress in technology has led to a marked increase in the amount of pollutants and toxins that are spewed into the air. Although a great deal of damage has already been done, we can still recover by making a strong attempt to clean the air. To do this, we must first pinpoint the causes of air pollution, as well as their effects. Read on to learn all about air pollution and what we can do to stop it.

What Causes Air Pollution?

The main causes of air pollution can be broken down into two distinct categories: natural and human. Natural causes typically include events such as volcano eruptions, dust storms, and forest fires. However, these events occur sporadically. On the other hand, human-caused pollution tends to happen on an ongoing scale. It is largely made up of pollutants emitted from fuel-burning vehicles, factories, waste incineration, smoking, and more.

Pollution Statistics

Of all of the pollutants that are found in our environment, there are six that make up the bulk of it. They include ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and matter made up of tiny particles. Air pollution is such a serious threat that it has been a direct factor in the deaths of millions of people each year. This is often due to indoor air pollution, as well as respiratory illnesses.

Health Effects of Air Pollution

The health effects that are brought on by air pollution can be short term or also long term. Young children or babies, and seniors are usually affected most strongly. Air pollution primarily causes respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as sinus irritations. Over a longer period of time, it can cause cancer, lung and heart disease, and even brain damage.

Environmental Effects

Despite the name, air pollution isn’t only strictly limited to the air. The water cycle naturally converts gases into liquids, forming precipitation. This means that pollutants in the air can be carried through rainfall, seeping into agricultural lands, plants, and animals. When we consume these crops and animals for food, we in turn ingest pollutants. Air pollution also leads to acid rain, which harms wildlife as well as manmade structures.

Controlling Air Pollution

Since it was discovered that air pollution was such a serious issue, governments around the world have taken active steps to help control it. In several areas, commercial organizations are now expected to limit the amount of pollutants they emit. Similarly, vehicle manufacturers have introduced technologies that decrease air pollution. The important thing to remember is that while larger groups are taking steps towards controlling pollution, civilians can also make a significant impact.

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air quality is as important to your health as the air we breathe outdoors. Certain products can emit irritating and even toxic chemicals indoors. Without proper ventilation, it can cause severe illness in people. This is most often seen in workplaces and homes situated in industrial areas. Allergens, such as pet dander, as well as other pollutants like cigarette smoke can also aggravate this issue.

What Can You Do?

To maintain a cleaner air quality, start at home. Identify sources of pollutants at home and try to eliminate or at least minimize them. Install an air cleaner at home for better indoor air quality. Limit your use of vehicles and instead walk, rollerblade, or bike. Alternatively, use public transport or carpool. Pay special attention to the types of products you use, to avoid those that emit harmful gases.

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