Essays about air pollution

Volcanic eruptions lead to the injection of large quantities of gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere.

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Forest fires contribute about 7. Natural sources of hydrocarbons come from forest fires and bacterial decomposition of organic matter. Pollen grains are often carried by dust and storm which may affect the people sensitivity to it. Man made sources of pollution are due to industries, automobiles, thermal power stations etc.

Their effects may be small on a global scale but are very severe locally. Stationary combustion sources include the use of coal or petroleum and the principal emission are particulate pollutants like fly ash and smoke, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. Among the worst stationary sources are the power plants. The fly ash emitted from this plant reduces visibility and contains traces of arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, beryllium and fluorine. Another important stationary source is the burning of biomass fuel and coal for domestic cooking and room heating at high altitudes.

Women and children are affected most from exposures to such burning of biofuels. Mobile combustion sources are from gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel used for mobile engines. Industries are potent sources of air pollution. The major culprit being the petroleum refineries that are major sources of gaseous pollutants like SO 2 , NO x etc. About one-fifth of the air pollution comes from industrial processors such as metallurgical plants and smelters, pulp and paper mills, sugar mills, cotton mills and synthetic rubber manufacturing plants. The suspended particulate matter SPM are above the industrial safely limits in these areas and cause health hazards.


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Acid vapours are emitted into the air by chemical industries. Automobiles such as scooters, cars, trucks, buses, air- crafts, ships, rails etc. The ever-increasing vehicular traffic density possess continuous threat to the surrounding air quality.

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The exhaust produces many pollutants such as un-burnt hydrocarbons, CO, NO x and lead oxides and traces of aldehydes, esters, ethers, peroxides and ketones. As fuel tanks contain petrol which volatile in nature, it results in the emission of hydrocarbon into the air. The crank case also discharges hydrocarbon into the atmosphere. The chief pollutants of thermal power station due to the burning of coal are fly ash, SO 2 , NO 2 , CO, aldehydes and hydrocarbons.

Other sources of air pollution are of minor consequences, but they release some harmful tonic substances. Agricultural practices release pesticides and dust into the atmosphere.

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Forest and field burnings release CO and NO x. Air pollution has now become a widespread problem and every individual in one way or other is facing problems caused by air pollution. Some environmental poisons can cause acute illness and even death. Others may be harmful, but the disease may take years or even decades to appear. Air pollution mainly affects the respiratory system. Bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and lung cancer are some of the chronic diseases caused due to exposure to polluted air.

It is feared that lung cancer is caused mainly due to polluted air because carcinogens are found in the polluted air. Sulphur dioxide is the most serious and widespread air pollutant. Its low concentration is a cause of spasms in the smooth muscle of bronchioles and its higher concentration induces increased mucus production.

Sulphur dioxide is also considered to cause cough, shortness of breath, spasm of the larynx and acute irritation to the membranes of the eyes. So, also acts as an allergenic agent. When it reacts with some compounds, sulphur acid is formed which may damage lungs. Carbon monoxide often affects the oxygen carrying capacity of blood.

Nitric oxide is reported to be a pulmonary irritant and its excess concentration may cause pulmonary haemorrhage. Hydrogen sulphide is also toxic. Lead emitted from automobile exhausts is a cumulative poison and is dangerous particularly to children and may cause brain damage. The particulate pollutants such as asbestos, silica, carbon, beryllium, lead, etc.

Radio-active elements are also harmful to man and other living organisms.

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In fact, the growing air pollution has now become a health hazard for man. The impact of air pollution on animals is more or less similar to that of effects on man. Chronic poisoning results from the ingestion of forage contaminated with atmospheric pollutants. Among the metallic contaminants arsenic, lead and molybdenum are important.

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Fluoride is another pollutant which causes fluorosis among animals. A number of livestock have been poisoned by fluorides and arsenic in North America. Bone lesions in animals due to excessive fluorides have also been reported. Air pollution has caused widespread damage to trees, fruits, vegetables, flowers and in general, vegetation as a whole. The total annual cost of plant damage caused by air pollution in USA alone has been estimated to be in the range of 1 to 2 billion dollars.

The most dramatic early instances of plant damage were seen in the total destruction of vegetation by sulphur dioxide in the areas surrounding smelters. When the absorption of sulphur dioxide exceeds a particular level, the cells become inactive and are killed, resulting in tissue collapse and drying of leaves. Cotton, wheat, barley and apple are more sensitive to this pollutant. Fluorides are responsible for various types of injuries to plants.

The leaves of apple, apricot, peach, prune are more susceptible to air borne fluorides. Fluorides are seen to interfere with the photosynthesis and respiration of plants. Smog also causes injury to plants. Similar impact of ozone can be seen in the lesions to plants.


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  7. Chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, etc. Acid rain as a by-product of atmospheric pollution may acidify lakes and streams and kill fish and aquatic plants. For example, if a certain plant is negatively affected by air pollutants, this will also affect the animals that depend on this particular plant for food. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are transformed in the atmosphere to produce acid compounds-sulphuric and nitric acids. These compounds then fall back on to the ground as particulates or raindrops-in other words, acid rain. Acid rain falls on streams and lakes, acidifies them and destroys fish life in freshwater ecosystems.

    Some other populations of animals in Europe and North America have also been declining due to acid rain. For example, pea aphids feed on pea plants exposed to sulphur dioxide in the air. High exposure to sulphur dioxide negatively affects the health of the pea plants, and therefore, the health of the aphids as well. Excessive ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun through the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere which is eroded by some air pollutants may cause skin cancer in wildlife.


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    8. It is also probably logical to assume that many higher order animals especially those closely related to humans, e. Physical injury to leaves is the immediate effect of air pollution on plants which are generated due to. Ozone produces a speckle of brown spots, which appear on the flat areas of leaves between the veins. Nitrogen dioxide: Irregular brown or white collapsed lesions on intercostals tissue and near the leaf edge. Lichens are considered to be most sensitive to sulphur dioxide.

      Sulphur dioxide may also affect higher plants, including wild species, crops and trees through some species may develop sulphur dioxide tolerant populations in response to long-term to long-term exposure. Dust particle form a smothering layer on leaves, reducing light and hence lowering photosynthesis rates. Dusts may also affect ecosystems through their action on soil. Thus the alkaline chemistry of limestone dusts can raise the soil pH of acid and neutral habitats, resulting it the loss of plant and animal species.

      Acid rain a product of air pollution severely affects trees and plants as well. It can kill trees, destroy the leaves of plants; can infiltrate soil by making it unsuitable for purpose of nutrition and habitation. The term was coined by H. Des Voeux in The UK smog was a mixture of reducing pollutants and has been termed as reducing smog.

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