A polluted environment has been contaminated due to the presence of compounds in the atmosphere that are dangerous to the health of humans and other living organisms, or that cause damage to the climate or to materials. Particles can be formed from a variety of sources, including automobile emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen, and mold spores. Ozone, a gas, contributes significantly to air pollution in urban areas. When ozone contributes to air pollution, it is referred to as “smog.” Some of the contaminants in the air are harmful.
According to John Walke, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Programme, energy consumption and production are responsible for the majority of the nation’s air pollution. In the process of burning fossil fuels, gases and chemicals are released into the air. Pollution in the air also exacerbates climate change, creating an exceptionally deadly feedback loop. According to Walke, the Earth’s temperature rises because of carbon dioxide and methane pollution in the air. Increased temperatures also cause another type of air pollution known as smog, which forms when the weather is hotter and there is more UV light. Mold (due to the wet conditions created by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen production are both increasing as a result of climate change (due to a longer pollen season). Kim Knowlton, senior scientist and deputy director of the NRDC Science Center, argues that the Clean Air Act has helped improve air quality in the United States over the past 50 years. Pollution limits put in place to safeguard public health will be more difficult to meet as a result of climate change.
Today, many locations in the United States have pollution levels that exceed national air quality limits for at least one of the six most prevalent pollutants:
Although particle and ground-level ozone pollution levels are significantly lower than in the past, they are nonetheless harmful in many parts of the country. Both pollutants are emitted from a variety of sources and travel great distances, crossing state lines. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that long-and short-term exposure to fine particle pollution, also known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), can result in premature death and adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, including increased hospitalizations and emergency department visits for heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, scientific data establish a link between PM and adverse respiratory symptoms, including asthma attacks. Through prolonged exposure, ozone can increase the frequency of asthma attacks, cause shortness of breath, aggravate lung disorders, and cause permanent damage to the lungs. Increased ozone levels have been associated with an increase in hospitalizations, ER visits, and premature deaths. Both pollutants harm the environment, and tiny particles impede visibility. Fine particles can be produced directly or as a by-product of gaseous emissions such as sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides. Ozone is a colourless gas formed by the reaction of nitrogen oxides with volatile organic molecules in the atmosphere.
The EPA is collaborating with states and others to establish where and how frequently harmful peak levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide occur. Both pollutants have a variety of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including an increase in asthma symptoms, and are related to an increase in emergency department visits and hospitalizations for respiratory illness. Both pollutants are harmful to the environment and are produced as a consequence of fossil fuel burning.
Airborne lead pollution, a national health hazard before the EPA’s Clean Air Act power to phase out lead in motor vehicle fuel, now meet national air quality standards except in regions near some big lead-emitting industrial operations. Lead exposure has been linked to neurological impacts in children, including behavioral issues, learning deficiencies, and lowered IQ, as well as high blood pressure and heart disease in adults.
The entire country complies with carbon monoxide air quality requirements, owing largely to the Clean Air Act’s emissions standards for new motor vehicles.
The Side Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
- Air pollution has serious consequences for human health. These effects can vary depending on the level of exposure and the type of pollutant inhaled, ranging from simple symptoms like coughing and respiratory tract irritation to acute conditions like asthma and chronic lung diseases.
- Skin problems and irritations can develop as a result of prolonged exposure to various air pollutants, and a variety of cancer types can develop as a result of inhaling air contaminants.
- Do not disregard the possibility of diseases caused by air pollution.
- Toxic or non-toxic air pollutants have serious negative effects on human health.