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Air Pollution: Definition, Impact and Dangers

Hyundai Motorstudio Senayan Park 2022.07.14
Air Pollution: Definition, Impact and Dangers

Air pollution is one of the environmental problems of concern. Indonesia, the capital city of Jakarta, was once the second worst air quality in the world according to the website IQAir .

As you know, living things breathe air. If the air is polluted with toxic gases or hazardous chemical gases, it will have a serious impact on health, especially for vulnerable people such as children and the elderly.

Just like water and soil, air is an important element in maintaining the survival of all living things. In this article, we will understand the meaning, impact and dangers of air pollution for living things. Read until the end of the article, yes!

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is anything that causes physical, chemical, or biological changes in the air. In other words, air pollution is the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust, or fumes that can drastically affect plants, animals, and humans.

The imbalance in the composition of certain gases in the air can threaten the survival of humans and animals. For example, an increase in the earth's temperature, or what is known as global warming due to air pollution.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), every year air pollution causes nearly 7 million deaths worldwide. Around 90% of humans currently breathe air that has been contaminated with harmful pollutants.

Impacts and Dangers of Air Pollution

There are impacts and dangers of air pollution for the environment. Among them:

1. Respiratory Disease

Air pollution causes several respiratory disorders and heart disease. For example, lung cancer cases have increased in recent decades.

Children who live near air-polluted areas are more prone to asthma and pneumonia. Many people die every year as a result of direct and indirect impacts of air pollution.

2. Global Warming

Air pollution can also cause an imbalance in the composition of gases in the air. This is what makes the earth's temperature increase. An increase in the earth's temperature is known as global warming.

The adverse effects of global warming are very concerning. Starting from rising sea levels due to melting glaciers, to a number of cities in danger of disappearing from the map because they are submerged in sea water.

3. Acid Rain

Another impact and danger of air pollution is acid rain. Burning fossil fuels such as coal can release harmful nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.

Drops of water that combine with the harmful gas will become acid. If acid rain occurs, it can damage the ecosystem living things.

4. Ozone Layer Depletion

If air pollution cannot be controlled, over time it will make the ozone layer thin. This is due to the release of chlorofluorocarbons, halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons that are released into the earth's atmosphere.

If the ozone layer is depleted, the impact will be very fatal and destroy life on earth. This is because the ozone layer acts as a shield or protector of the earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. In high intensity, the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer and eye cancer.

Dangerous Types of Air Pollution

The effects of air pollution on the human body vary widely. This depends on the type of air pollution, as well as how long the exposure level, and other factors. Such as medical history, age, or stress level.

Judging from health, it is clear that air pollution is very dangerous and reduces the level of public health. Here are some types of air pollution that are harmful to health.

1. Smoke and Soot

The most common types of air pollution are smoke and soot. For example, the smoke from burning garbage in villages, smog in the forest due to drought, as well as factory smoke or vehicle exhaust fumes.

In addition, there is soot that comes flying or is carried into the air. The soot mixes with small particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or other gases. Sources of smoke and soot can also come from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, fossil fuels, or natural gas.

Smoke and soot can irritate the eyes or throat, and even damage the lungs. Especially children, the elderly, or people who are often outdoors.

In 2020, a Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health report showed the COVID-19 death rate was very high in polluted air areas.

2. Mercury and Lead

A number of other air pollutants that pose serious health risks are mercury, lead, dioxins and benzene. These chemicals are produced by burning coal, natural gas, or fossil fuels such as gasoline.

Furthermore, mercury and lead can affect human vital organs. Some of these include the central nervous system, brain, and kidneys. In fact, exposure to small amounts of mercury and lead can affect a child's intelligence and IQ.

In one study, children of mothers exposed to mercury and lead during pregnancy had ADHD symptoms and slow brain processing.

3. Carbon Dioxide and Methane

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane trapped in the Earth's atmosphere will cause climate change. Among them are deaths due to hot temperatures, disease transmission, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and others.

In 2018, carbon dioxide accounted for 81% of total carbon emissions of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, methane accounts for 10%. Carbon dioxide comes from vehicle exhaust fumes, while methane comes from factory fumes, as well as gas and oil drilling.

4. Pollen and Mushrooms

Other types of pollutants that can cause air pollution are pollen and mold. Generally, it comes from weeds, grass, or plant pollen that is carried into the air.

Although not directly related to human actions, this can be prevented. If your house, school, or office is not cleaned regularly, mold can grow easily. This fungus is what produces air pollution and causes allergies. Mushrooms can trigger asthma attacks, flu, or other toxins that are harmful if inhaled.

On the other hand, studies show that plants like Ragweed produce more pollen in areas where there is a lot of carbon dioxide. Climate change is further prolonging pollen production. No wonder, many people get sick easily with colds, fever, itchy eyes, and others.

Reported by the State of Global Air, there are at least 4.5 million deaths due to air pollution per year. In fact, Jakarta was ranked 2nd in the world for the worst air quality on June 16, 2022 according to IQAir's version.

The report reminds us that climate change significantly makes air pollution worse. If we don't act to reduce air pollution, then who else?