Top 10 Major Contributors of Air Pollution

The air that we breathe has a significant impact on our health and functioning. It is essential for the air surrounding us to be clean because breathing is involuntary and imperative. We just can’t stop breathing. As a result, even if the air around us is contaminated or polluted, we end up breathing it and harm ourselves without even knowing about it. Air pollution has become a major global concern, and it only keeps on increasing. To ensure our sustenance and healthy living, we must do everything we can to mitigate air pollution. The following is a list of some major contributors of air pollution that we need to curb and control before it gets too late:

10. Natural Causes

While most forms of air pollution are caused by humans, there are some natural causes as well which are beyond our control. Disasters such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions can cause major air pollution, besides significant damage. Forest fires are infamous for wiping out hectares of forest cover and burning down trees. The gigantic amount of smoke that is emitted lingers in the surrounding areas for days, causing high air pollution. Volcanic activity is very infrequent around the world. However, eruptions can be disastrous because of the sulfuric fumes that erupt along with lava and mix with the air.

9. Heavy Construction

Urbanization has increased manifold in the past few decades. In order to create more and more jobs for people, office spaces and high-rises are required. Heavy constructions take place primarily to meet such demands adds to the amount of pollution in the environment. Various large-scale equipment and raw materials are used in the process, thereby generating a lot of dust and smog. Moreover, as such major constructions take at least a few years to complete, the pollutant emission is not a one-time occurrence, but is continuous. The construction of larger buildings such as factories or research centers take an equally harmful toll on the environment, and especially on the air.

8. Mining

The mining industry is extremely lucrative – its estimated worth is well in the billions. Multiple African and South American countries have become known as mining hubs as mining conglomerates focus their mining operations there. A lot of digging and heavy drilling equipment is required to reach underground and find ores. A large amount of dust and chemicals are released into the environment during the process. As a result, the ordeal leaves an adverse impact on the environment. In fact, the health conditions of the workers are also affected and they end up developing serious health problems.

7. Agricultural chemicals

Agriculture is an occupation that is pivotal for the sustenance of humanity. However, the widespread use of insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers is beginning to have a contradictory impact. While it ensures that crop growth is uninhibited, the chemicals released are harmful to the environment. Most of these chemicals contain ammonia and nitrates, which eventually pass up to the air and mix with it. This makes breathing around such areas quite difficult. Besides causing air pollution, these chemicals also end up becoming adulterants in the crops they are applied to.

6. Overpopulation

Overpopulation has gradually turned out to be a global concern. Countries like India and China have populations of over one billion people. Their populations are increasing, as a result of which the world population is also growing. A growing number of people equates to more consumption and greater generation of waste. In essence, the planet is running out of space. This, in turn, has added to the persistent air pollution problem.

5. Deforestation

A problem that is directly linked to overpopulation, deforestation is equally harmful. Trees serve as major contributors of oxygen to the environment. When trees are cut down in gigantic numbers, the amount of carbon dioxide that is left behind in those areas increases. Consequently, this augments the amount of air pollution. As more and more people look for housing and employment, nature suffers. Urbanization leads to depletion of the forest cover to make room for more people. Thus, more construction leads to more dust and pollutants. Ultimately, air pollution increases.

4. Indoor pollutants

Human beings are indirectly the root cause of air pollution. Besides large-scale activities that contribute to air pollution, indoor actions can do the same as well. When a house is painted, various chemicals are released into the surroundings that make breathing difficult. Bursting firecrackers also release toxic emissions into the environment. Emissions from refrigerators and air conditions like chlorofluorocarbons also cause air pollution and deplete the ozone layer. This leads to an increase in global warming as well, which has become on the biggest global crisis in existence today. Human beings need to understand their duty to the environment, be responsible, and do whatever they can to individually prevent air pollution.

3. Industrial pollution

The industrial era led to the establishment of hundreds and thousands of industrial factories around the world. Using large amounts of energy, these industries emit various gases and pollutants. The output is greater than the input, and a significant chunk of the output is wastage. This wastage is either drained out into water bodies, thereby leading to water pollution, or released into the air. Large chimneys continuously chug out clouds of black smog into the environment, turning the skies dark and polluting the area. The industrial sector is one of the largest contributors to air pollution.

2. Vehicular emissions

The number of cars on the roads has quadrupled from what it was a few decades ago. This has not only led to traffic jams and an increase in the number of accidents but has also increased pollution. Vehicular emissions consist of smoke and smog from the exhaust pipes, directly polluting the air and environment. In fact, cities like Delhi in India and Beijing in China have had to resort to policies that prevent too many vehicles from moving on the roads to mitigate pollution. As soon as these policies were implemented, the skies cleared and breathing became much easier. In the long run, systematic solutions will have to be adopted to lessen the adverse environmental impact of vehicular emissions.

1. Combustion of fossil fuels

The single most deadly contributor to air pollution- fossil fuels- are as much a bane as they are a boon. Coal, petroleum, and natural gases find their uses in the functioning of economics all around the world. Industries, electricity, cars – all derive their energy sources from fossil fuel combustion. However, the impact on the environment is immense and air pollution has increased at an alarming rate. In order to create a sustainable world, we will have to gradually shift to renewable and clean energy sources, and lessen the combustion of fossil fuels in order to reduce air pollution and save the environment.


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Faraz Rizvi