What are all the causes and effects of air pollution?

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jerichorayel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Air pollution is defined as a phenomenon where the current atmosphere is populated by chemicals, particulates, and other materials that can do harm on humans and other organisms living in a certain area. There are many causes of air pollution happening on earth at this very moment. With that causes, changes in the activities of organisms are affected which can cause diseases, mutations, and even deaths.

The causes of air pollution are generally the large amount of pollutant sources that is discharged in the atmosphere. Man-made sources such as factories, fuel-powered engines, manufacturing industries and other industrial establishments give off gasses that are released in the environment. Other sources are from natural or environmental effects such as volcanic eruptions, decomposition reactions, dust production from non-vegetative lands and smoke form wild fires.

In terms of kinds of pollutants, the following are the most common pollutants known to affect humans and other organisms. Sulphur oxides (SOx) and Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are formed from industrial processes that eventually can react with water and form acid rain.  Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas formed from an incomplete combustion of fuels in automobiles. Radioactive pollutants are produced from radioactive sources such as nuclear labs and power plants. Ozone also is considered as pollutant in the sea level since it can react with molecules with series of irreversible reactions. Several pollutants are listed in US EPA (Environmental protection agency) which includes free radicals, ammonia, methane, CFCs, peroxylacetyl nitrates (PAN), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates.

The effects of air pollution happen when the amount of certain chemical surpasses the limit of toxicity of any individuals. These include respiratory illnesses, mutations of organisms, increased cancer proliferation, and weakening of the immune system. Physical effects are also evident such as acid rain, changes in the essential air composition, water pollution, land pollution, and agricultural/livelihood damages.

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