Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health
Carbon monoxide (CO) and nitric oxide (NO) combine with haemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) which reduces oxygen carrying capacity of blood. So, let’s dive into deep for effects of air pollution.
Oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and oxides of sulfur (SOX) cause irritation to eye, throat, and nose. They cause diseases like asthma and bronchitis.
Pollen can initiate asthmatic attacks.
Secondary pollutant (O3, PAN) produced by hydrocarbons and NOx, results in the formation of photochemical smog, which irritates eyes, nose, throat and respiratory diseases.
Some aromatic hydrocarbons may cause cancer.
Exposure to dust, smoke, smog, and soot may include several respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis and lung cancer.
Heavy metals like lead may cause poisoning effects on the nervous system, damage to kidney and vision problem.
Nickel particulates in tobacco smoke result in respiratory damage.
Radioactive substances cause lung diseases and affect kidney, liver, brain and sometimes may cause cancer.
Atmospheric dust containing silica may cause silicosis.
Effects of Air Pollution on Plants and Vegetation
Air pollutants affect plants by entering through stomata (leaf pores through which gases diffuse), destroy chlorophyll and affect photosynthesis.
Pollutants also erode the waxy coating of the leaves called cuticle. Cuticle prevents excessive water loss and damage from diseases, pests, drought, and frost. Damage to leaf structure causes the dropping of leaves.
Particulate like dust, fog, soot deposit on plant leaves, block stomata and affect the rate of transpiration.
Effects of Air Pollution on Property/Material
SO2 in the presence of oxygen and moisture converted into H2SO4 Deposition of this acid on metal parts of building roofs, railway tracks, metal on bridges cause corrosion.
H2SO4 acid deposition reacts with limestone, marble and other building materials to cause deterioration and disfigure the building material.
Pollutants like SO2, O3, H2S, and aerosols damage protective coating and paints of the surface.
Damage to textile dyes and textile fibres caused by SOX, NOx, and O3.
Also, Ozone and PAN cause cracking of rubber tires and various forms of electrical insulation.
Deterioration of lather and paper due to H2SO4
Soiling increases cost of cleaning shirts and other wears, windows, building surface.
Effects of Air Pollutants on Climate
Due to humanmade activities like industrialisation, automobiles, deforestation etc., the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will increases.
About 50% of Green House Effect may attribute to CO2, which increased the temperature of the earth. This increase in temperature caused the melting of ice caps and glaciers. Thus the increase in ambient air temperature will increase the mean sea level.
So, the thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere by the action of aerosols will increase the penetration of harmful ultraviolet rays to earth, and this will cause blindness, Sunburn, inactivation of proteins, RNA and DNA.
Effects of Air Pollutants on Aesthetic Beauty
The most noticeable impact of air pollution on the properties of the atmosphere is the reduction in visibility, which may lead to a safety hazard.
So, the visibility is reduced by adsorption and scattering of light by airborne particles (0.1 to 1 µm size).
As a final result, industrial and automobiles emissions, sewage and garbage emit foul odours causing further loss of aesthetic beauty.
Factor Affecting Air Pollutant
The factors which affect air pollution are as follows:
Metrological parameters or characteristics
- Wind direction
- Wind Speed
- Atmospheric lapse rate
- Relative Humidity, etc.
- The unevenness of landforms and barriers like mountains valleys.
Characteristics of pollutants
- Type and size of contaminants
- Interaction among contaminants
Mode of the release of contaminants
- Intermittent, continuous, cyclic
- From single sources or multiple sources
- From point sources or area sources