Air is polluted by many sources, such as factories, transport and power plants. But there are other sources that you may not even suspect, such as dry cleaning products, fires and dust. Contaminated air damages health, crops, trees, water and animals.
There are 6 main components that pollute the air:
It is a gas that exists on the surface of the earth, as well as kilometers from it. It is released during the chemical reaction between nitric oxide and volatile organic compounds under the influence of heat and sunlight. “Good” ozone is formed, as a rule, 15-50 kilometers from the surface of the earth. There, in the stratosphere, it creates a protective ball from harmful sun rays. On the surface of the earth there is a “bad” ozone (smog). Exhaust gases, industrial emissions, vapors of gasoline and chemical solvents are the main sources of nitrogen oxides and VOCs. If you add solar rays and hot water to all this, a dangerous concentration of ozone may result. Because of heat, ozone is a major problem in the summer and can be dangerous for people with respiratory diseases. It can cause problems such as:
- Lung irritation, which can cause inflammation similar to sunburn.
- Cough, wheezing and pain with deep breathing and playing sports on the street.
- Permanent damage to the lungs during prolonged contact.
- Acute asthma, increased susceptibility to pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as a decrease in lung volume.
The microparticles include dust, dirt, soot, smoke and impregnations. They come from different sources, such as vehicles, factories, construction sites, dirt roads and burnt timber. Other particulates are formed during the reaction of the gases of the burned fuel and water vapor under the influence of sunlight. These gases can be the result of fuel combustion of vehicles and industrial power plants. Upon inhalation, particulates may cause:
- Acute asthma.
- Cough, difficulty, or pain in breathing.
- Chronical bronchitis.
- Dysfunction of the lungs.
- Irritation of eyes, nose and throat.
In cities with intensive traffic, most carbon monoxide enters the air with exhaust fumes. It is also formed in the process of industrial production, during the burning of wood and forest fires. Carbon monoxide reduces the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the tissues of organs such as the heart and the brain. It is especially dangerous for people who suffer from heart disease. The action of a particularly large amount of this gas can be deadly. Annually carbon monoxide poisoning is the main cause of death caused by toxins. People who are poisoned with this gas show symptoms such as:
- Headache, irritability or loss of consciousness.
- Difficulties in working, studying and performing complex tasks.
- The development of heart diseases, such as, angina pectoris, heart failure and coronary artery disease.
In many urban areas, this gas can be seen as a brown layer, which is formed as a result of the interaction of gas with other particles in the air. Nitrogen dioxide is released when the fuel burns, as a result of the operation of power plants and plants. This gas is one of the types of nitric oxide, and this is a group of gases, which actively reacts and contains various amounts of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen oxides cause a number of problems, among which:
- Respiratory diseases.
- Acid rain, which is formed as a result of the reaction of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide with other substances in the air. The result of this reaction is an acid that settles on the surface of the earth in the form of rain, snow, dry particles or fog.
- Toxic chemicals. In the interaction of nitrogen dioxide with other organic substances and even ozone, toxic compounds are formed that can cause biological mutations.
- Impairment of visibility. Nitrogen dioxide and nitrate particles block the propagation of light in urban areas.
This gas is formed when the fuel burns, which contains sulfur, for example, during the combustion of coal and oil, during the production of gasoline from oil or metal from the ore. Annually, power plants throw 13 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the air, especially those that work on coal. Other sources of this gas are enterprises that produce products from metal ore, coal and crude oil, or burn coal and oil, for example, an oil refinery or a metal plant. Sulfur dioxide is the reason:
- Problems with health in people who suffer from asthma and heart disease.
- Acid rain.
- Destruction of forests and crops.
- Destruction of fish in streams and lakes.
The main source of lead in the air is leaded gasoline. But as the production of this fuel is discontinued, the main source of lead emissions is the metal industry, and especially the lead smelters. Lead can cause such health problems as:
- Diseases of the kidneys, liver, brain, nervous system and other organs. It can also cause osteoporosis and impair reproductive function. Contact with a significant amount of lead can cause epileptic seizures, mental retardation, inadequate behavior, memory problems and sudden mood changes. Even a small amount of lead can affect the brain and nervous system of a small child or fetus, which leads to learning problems and low intelligence.
- Elevated blood pressure and heart disease.
Contact with pesticides can occur during the consumption of food products that contain residual agricultural pesticides, use at home or at the workplace of means for controlling rodents, insects, termites, as well as disinfectants and antifungals. The main ways of contact are small amounts of pesticides in food and in direct contact with surfaces (plants, soil) that have been exposed to pesticides.
If used improperly, both domestic and special pesticides can be dangerous. Contact with a significant amount of pesticides can cause headache, drowsiness, muscle contraction, nausea, weakness and tingling sensations. Some experts believe that some pesticides can cause cancer and affect the liver and nervous system. There are cases when contact with pesticides during pregnancy caused interruption, fetal death and early development of cancer, for example, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The use of pesticides indoors increases the risk of developing a brain tumor in children, ALL and complications during childbirth. Children can be poisoned by these substances, so they need to be stored in a place not accessible to children. In agricultural workers, exposure to pesticides can increase the risk of developing the disease, which is called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Reduce the use of garden pesticides and limit contact with anti-moth agents.
Mercury, which is contained in fish
For most people, the amount of mercury found in fish and oysters does not cause health problems. But it can affect the brain and nervous system of the fetus or small child. After the mercury is found in the fish, the Food and Drug Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency recommend that women who are about to become pregnant are already pregnant or breastfeeding, and children should not eat fish that are high in mercury and restrict consumption fish with a low content of mercury.