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    Health Effects of Air Pollution

    Air pollution is now a common term that our ears are accustomed to. Air pollution occurs when harmful substances including biological molecules and particulates are introduced into the earth’s atmosphere. It is a mixture of manmade and natural substances in the air that we breathe in. Even healthy people can experience health impacts from the polluted air like breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation during outdoor activities.

    The issue of air pollution is threatening the existence of human beings as well as all other living beings on the planet. Air pollution damages the ozone layer, creates smog and acid rain, promotes respiratory diseases, causes global warming and much more. Some causes of air pollution are mention below.

           Burning of fossil fuels
           Mining operations
           Agricultural activities
           Power generation
           Exhaust from manufacturing industries
           Forest fires

    Air pollution is one of the major environmental health problems which is affecting the developed and the developing countries alike. The effects of air pollution on health are very complex as there are many sources of air pollution and their individual effect vary from one person to the other. Some health effects of air pollution are discussed below.

    Air Pollutant: Carbon Monoxide

    Sources: It is primarily produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Vehicular emission is one of the major contributors of carbon monoxide.

    Health Effects: The gas reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the RBC (red blood cells). The health effect depends upon the concentration of CO inhaled and the duration of exposure. Symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and tiredness can be found if exposed to low level of CO. Higher concentration of carbon monoxide can lead to disturbed coordination, impaired vision and eventually death.

    Air Pollutant: Ozone

    Sources: It is formed from the photochemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides which are pollutants from industries and motor vehicles.

    Health Effects: The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere of the earth protects us from the harmful radiations of the sun. But at the ground level, ozone is a highly reactive gas which causes irritation in the eyes and brings respiratory symptoms to healthy people. It causes respiratory disorder like asthma and lowers our resistance to pneumonia and cold.

    Air Pollutant: Sulphur Dioxide

    Sources: Sulphur containing fuels are main contributors of Sulphur Dioxide. Vehicles, industries, and marine vessels also contribute to producing this pollutant.

    Health Effects: It causes irritation in eyes and nose. It leads to diseases of the lung and other lung disorders such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

    Air Pollutant:  Nitrogen Dioxide

    Sources: Mobile sources such as motor vehicles and stationary sources like power stations produces nitrogen dioxide which causes air pollution.

    Health Effects: Nitrogen dioxide irritates the eyes, throat, nose and the lower respiratory tract. Long-term exposure to the gas can lower the function of lungs and can cause respiratory infections.

    Air Pollutant: Lead

    Sources: Lead mainly arises in the atmosphere from automobiles and industrial emissions. Lead-containing paints and solders also contribute to the formation of this air pollutant.

    Health Effects: Lead is highly toxic to human beings. It damages the kidney and the nervous system. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to the digestive problems and in some cases cause cancer.

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