Air Pollution

Meenakshi, C. (2017)

Meaning and Definition of Air Pollution:

Due to some natural processes like volcanic eruptions deflation of sand and dust etc. or human activities when the amount of solid waste or concentration of gases other than oxygen (02) increases in the air, which normally has constant percentages of different gases in it, the air is said to be polluted. The contamination of air with smoke, dust, and harmful gases is called air pollution. Air Pollution

The atmosphere is a gaseous envelope that surrounds the earth from all sides and the air is a composition of several gases mainly nitrogen (78.4%), Oxygen (20%), Organ and other gases (1.5%) and Carbon dioxide (.0314%). Air is very important for all types of life in the biosphere. Human life is not possible without air because man can survive for a few weeks without food and for a few days without water but cannot live even for a few minutes without air.

Sources of Air Pollution:

There are two major sources of air pollution as follows:

(1) Natural Sources: Such as volcanic eruptions, deflation of sand and dust, forest wild fires, natural vegetation, etc.

(2) Man-made sources: Or human activities. Such as industries, factories, urban centers, aircraft, nuclear experiments, automobiles, agriculture, power plants, etc.

From the different sources of air pollution, a variety of pollutants are released into the atmosphere. The principal air pollutants emitted from these different sources are as follows:

i. Carbon compounds: There are mainly carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, the former released by the complete combustion of fossil fuels and the latter by automobile exhausts.

ii. Sulphur compounds: These include Sulphur dioxide (SO2) Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Sulphuric Acid mostly released by fossil fuel (coal, etc.) based power generating plants (thermal plants) and industrial units like refineries.

iii. Nitrogen Oxides: These include chiefly nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen oxide and nitric acid mostly released by automobiles, power plants industries.

iv Fluorocarbons: These chemicals coming from industries, insecticides spray, etc. affect the ozone layer and result in the process of global warming.

v. Hydrocarbons: These are chiefly benzene, benzpyrene, etc., which are mostly discharged by automobiles and industries.

vi. Metals: These include chiefly lead, nickel, arsenic, beryllium, tin, vanadium, titanium, cadmium, etc., present in the air as solid particles or liquid droplets or gases. They are produced mostly by metallurgical processes, automobiles, sea spray, etc. Air Pollution, on the basis of sources of pollution, is sub-divided into six categories:-

a) Automobiles pollution                           b) Industrial pollution

c) Thermal pollution                                  c) Urban pollution

d) Rural pollution and                                e) Nuclear pollution

Generally, these approaches are used to describe air pollution. There is overlapping among the various categories.

Adverse Effects of Air Pollution:

Air pollution causes several kinds of damages to man, animals, plants and also on weather, climate and atmospheric processes. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, there is a previously unrecognized role for environmental pollution in liver disease in the general US adult population. This work builds upon the groups’ previous research demonstrating liver disease in highly-exposed chemical workers

Some significant effects have been enumerated here.

1) Air pollution has very serious types of pathological effects on man. It causes several types of diseases to man,

2) It causes obstruction to vision of pilots and has caused aircraft accidents.

3) Air pollution has damaged both agricultural crops and natural plants and vegetation.

4) There has been an injury to agricultural livestock, particularly from airborne fluoride and arsenic pollution.

5) Air pollution also takes its toll on buildings and other manmade objects such as famous buildings, monuments, and treasures.

6) Air pollution also affects weather and climate on a regional, continental or global basis. Acid rain and ozone depletion caused by air pollution cause damages to man and other living organisms.

7) The increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes an increase in the temperature of the earth. It is known by the phrase ‘Greenhouse effect’. It also tends to prevent the long-wave radiation from the earth. Thus it has an atmospheric effect. The intensity of radiation will cause skin cancer.

8) The jet engines of supersonic aircraft flying at high attitude release nitrogen oxide which destroys ozone molecules. It has also atmospheric adverse effects.

Control and Prevention of Air Pollution:

The several types of air pollutions can be controlled by employing modern technology and scientific researches, but the costs to be borne by the public in the form of higher prices for manufactured goods, higher taxes, reduction of profit margins, in industry and more restriction on human activities. It involves the benefits to improve the quality of the environment and human health, agriculture, and vegetations. It will also improve the ecological balance and stability of the ecosystem.

The main sources of air pollution are – 1) Automobiles, 2) Industrial development, 3) Power plants (coal-based) and thermal power plants. Thus steps are to be taken to control air pollution at source and after the release of pollutants.

1) Automobiles Air Pollution: The following are some of the measures to be followed for controlling air p ollution by automobiles.

a) To check pollutant emission from the vehicular exhaust.

b) To control evaporation from fuel tank and carburetor.

c) To use the filers, and

d) To control through law-motor vehicles act 1988 and other acts of the engine.

2) Industrial Air-Pollution: Air-pollution by industry and power plant waste can be checked by devising measures for removal of the particulate matter and gaseous pollutants from the wastes. The three types of equipment or devices used are –

a) Cyclone collectors

b) Electrostatic precipitators and

c) Control through law – Acts of industry

3) Gaseous Pollutants: The following four methods can be used to control air pollution from gaseous pollutants:

a) Wet Systems: The alkali liquid reacts with sulphur dioxide to produce a precipitate.

b) Dry Systems: Water in contact with sulphur dioxide produces sulphuric acid.

c) Wet dry systems: This method is very effective in dry cleaning plants, printing shops, paint factories, food processing plants, etc. Control through Law: Acts for Industries are to be enforced strictly to prevent gaseous pollution.

Role of Education in Controlling Air Pollution:

Education is a powerful instrument to control social problems. Air pollutions is a serious social problem these days. Everyone is concerned and affected by the problem. The air pollution and noise pollution are interrelated; thus both are included under the Air and Noise Pollution Prevention Act. The legal steps have already been taken by state and central governments, to prevent and control the air pollutions which have been discussed in earlier paragraphs.

Education can also play a significant role in the prevention and control of air pollution. It is very essential to provide awareness and develop consciousness among students about air pollution and its resources and ways. Formal, non-formal and adult education programmes should provide awareness and develop feelings and attitudes are consciousness about the problem which has serious adverse effects on human health. Charts and mottos are prepared on air pollution, resources, and remedial measures. Now a day’s media and newspapers are doing the same, e.g., ‘Save the Oil’, protect the air’. The students should also be given this type of knowledge. The oil resources are limited and decreasing rapidly, thus the day is not far away that automobiles and airplanes will not be able to function.

Use reference for citation:

  • Meenakshi, C. (2017). Awareness of dreadful diseases and environmental pollution on the personal values of the college students. Alagappa University. Retrieved from:

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