Major Air Pollutants: Analytical Essay

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Air pollution refers to the introduction of pollutants into the atmosphere while pollutants are substances that contaminate the atmosphere, water and environment.

Air, food and water, in this sequence, are the central metabolic elements requires for human lifecycle, reduction of quantity and quality of these important elements present a significant threat to the whole biosphere. Air pollution arises when mixture of gases, smoke, complex mixture of tiny particles of dust or fume are introduced into the space in large quantity that makes them harmful to human health and other living organisms (animals and plants).

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Air pollution threatens wellbeing of humans and other living things in our globe, it creates acid rain and smog which sometimes cause respiratory diseases, cancers and genetic mutations, decrease or destroy ozone layer and cause climate change.

In the twenty first century of industrialization, air pollution will not be eradicated completely, however, steps to reduced it can be employed, the administration or government should create laws and guidelines for quality air and decree to control emission in an effort to prevent air pollution.

On an individual bases, we can decrease our involvement to the pollution trouble by using public mean transport, also reducing use of electricity will decrease the pollutants released during production of energy or electricity, which produce large number of industrial air contaminations.


Air pollution is the presence or introduction of pollutants into the outdoor atmosphere either particulates, chemicals which cause diseases, death to human being, animals and harm other living things such as crops, and sometimes the entire physical or natural environment. Air pollution historically according to Miller GT, research; living in the environment, it received recognition as an urban problem in England in the ninth century, when coal was discovered and complaints about foul air began to be heard, during the London smog of 1952, the smog was so thick that the road, rial, and air transport were brought almost to standstill. (Miller GT Wadsworth Publishers, 1998).

A matter in the air can be adversative to human beings and the entire environment is termed as contaminant or pollutant. Pollutants are in a complex form of mixture of gases, liquid droplets and solid pollutants either from natural origin or discharged into the space by man-made activities.

Contaminants are grouped as primary and secondary, generally, prime pollutants are created directly from the processes such as oxides of sulphur from the industries, carbon monoxides from vehicle exhaust, volcanic gas, resuspension of dust particles from arid and semi- arid areas whereas, secondary pollutants are formed as a result of reaction of gaseous antecedents such as nitrogen oxide, ammonia, oxides of sulphur and other organic compounds. These include: ozone and nitrogen oxides, secondary pollutants are not directly emitted.

Air pollution is a substantial hazard issue amount of pollution-associated problems, which include heart diseases, COPD, Stroke, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. The health effects of deprived air quality are distant reaching however, predominantly affect circulatory system and respiratory system. Individual response to the contaminants rest on the nature of pollutant one’s is bare to, intensity of exposure, genetics and health-status, as stated by E.PA. childhood is often identified as susceptible life stage because children lungs and other organ systems are still developing and in this situation they may experience higher exposure due to their activities.(U.S Environmental Protection Agency, 2010).

Basic and Background

Health effects that are linked with each of the specific pollutants at different level of concentration and their acceptable degree in the atmosphere are here discuss below.

Oxides of Sulphur; S is a non-metal found in coal and oil, its oxides are Sulphur dioxide, (SO2) and Sulphur trioxide, (SO3) it’s produced by several industrial processes and volcanoes, combustion of fuel, chemical plants, metal processing plants, trash burning are ultimate sources of Sulphur.

Additional oxidation of SO2 in the existence of catalyst to form acid H2SO4, which can result into acid rain.

Carbon monoxide; CO, IS a colorless, tasteless gas, its primary sources are fuel and coal combustion due to unfinished combustion of carbon containing fuel or patrol result into the formation of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Carbon monoxide aggravate respiratory tract, however, coming into contact with it sometimes decrease the volume of the blood to transport oxygen, wherefore, reducing the amount of oxygen to other organs and tissues, exposure to 30ppm inactivate 5% of hemoglobin, and beyond 30ppm is harmful and can kills by paralyzing central nervous system for instant, according to EPA People with several types of heart diseases already have a reduced capacity for pumping oxygenated blood to the heart, For these people, short-term exposure to CO affect their body’s already compromised ability to respond to the increased oxygen demands of exercise. thus, people with respiratory problems are identify as at greatest risk from ambient CO. (U.S Environmental Protection Agency.2010).

Oxides of Nitrogen; combustion of fuel and chemical plants are the primary sources of (NO &NO2), they are also emitted by non-road engines, at high temperature it combines with oxygen to form Nitric Oxide & Nitrogen dioxide in the space

Exposure to Nitrogen dioxide sometimes lead to reduction in lung function and increase the risk of respiratory-related diseases.

Particulate matter; solid and liquid droplets present in the atmosphere in form of small tiny particles, particulate include dust, fumes, mists, smoke, sprays. These particles result from either man-made or natural process, like forest fire, volcanoes, dust storms, human activities, such as mining, burning fossil fuel, agricultural operations, and different industrial processes, accumulation of fine particles in the atmosphere are also associated with health threats such as lung malfunctioning, and cardiovascular diseases.

Photochemical oxidants; these include ozone (O3) which acted as the protector of the atmosphere against ultraviolet rays produced by the sun, and peroxyacetyl Nitrates (PAN), ground-level ozone is also formed by the reaction of oxides of Nitrogen & other reactive hydrocarbons.

The photochemical oxidants have some health impacts depending on the level of exposure, short-term exposure to ground-level ozone cause respiratory problems, such as breathing difficulty, lung inflammation, and cough, short-term exposure to ozone is related with early death among children, while long-term cause may cause lasting impairment to the adult’s lung.

Hydrocarbons; these are some of the organic compounds which acts as air pollutant, classical example is methane gas, evaporation of organic solvents from dry cleaning, agricultural burning and internal combustion engine are sources of these hydrocarbons, methane is a effective greenhouse gas that subsidized global warming, other aromatic hydrocarbons like benzene, are alleged carcinogens.

Other hazardous pollutants;

  • Asbestos, which is silicate minerals (Si8O22)(OH)2. Is a tiny small fibrous material which can be inhaled. Long-term exposure to asbestos lead to asbestosis.
  • Lead is also a pollutant, which is very dangerous, its principal source is industrial operations, e.g. lead aviation gasoline, lead battery recycling operations, it gathers in blood, soft tissues and bones, coming into contact with it cause impairment growth of nervous system especially in children.
  • Mercury is a toxic metal in all its forms, mercury is mobile, and once released cycle in the air , land and water for sometimes, exposure to it cause grave injury to central nervous system and kidney.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) cause damage to ozone layer produced from banned products
  • Radioactive pollutants; caused by explosives, nuclear events, and natural occurrences, e.g. radon decay.
  • Insecticides; these chemicals are harmful to both insects and human also, e.g. Dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), can attack brain and some other important organs, as matter of fact, a breast-feeding baby can affect by the (DDT) through the mother as it can pass via mother milk.


In this study, my principal goal is to examines the connection or the results of long-term contact with a range of open-air pollutants and some other causes of death, with their impacts to human health.

Factors causative to air pollution

Air pollution can be outcome of either man-made activities or natural occurrences. Natural processes which contaminate the atmosphere comprise of erosion, volcanoes, evaporation of volatile organic compounds, forest fire, and radioactivity, while humans cause are commonly related to combustion of several fuels. Causes of air contamination depends on location, factors and activities that are accountable for the release of pollutants into the planetary.

Natural sources

  • · Dust storm from arid and semi-arid desert.
  • · Volcanic eruption which produce ash particles, chlorine gas, Sulphur.
  • · Carbon monoxide and smoke particles from forest fire.
  • · Gases from radioactive substance, e.g. radon gas is a colorless gas which occurs as a result of radium decay.
  • · Methane gas released by animals during food digestion.

Human activities

  • · Combustion exhaust from vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels and many others.
  • · Mining activities, chemicals, fumes, sprays and other diluents
  • · Explosives, toxic gases, nuclear weapons and rockets
  • · Factories, power plants, biomass burning, burning fuel, waste materials that produce methane gas.

Studies have shown that air pollutants, whether man-made or natural processes, have far greater impacts on human’s heath, and the environment in general, depending on the type of pollutant and the time of exposure. For example, continuing exposure to air pollution and mortality rate are interrelated together, for specific death cause, relations are many for respirational diseases and nearer to heart problems. lack of ventilation in the house concentrates air pollution where people often spend most of their times. Radon (Rn) gas, a carcinogen, is exuded from the earth in certain places and trapped inside houses. Construction materials including flooring and plywood emit formaldehyde (H2CO) gas. Paint and solvents give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as they parched. Lead paint can decadent into dust and be inhaled. Indoor effluence may be cause by using pesticides and other chemical sprays indoors without proper ventilation. (Dr.Mahendra Pratap et al, 2013. Causes, Consequences and Control of Air Pollution).

Air pollution posted a potential risk to the general public, in term of health circumstances which sometimes involves cardiovascular diseases, lung dysfunctions and respiratory problems, and untimely death if not properly treated or incase of severe health conditions.

Cooking and home applications can sometimes cause different set of air contaminants, However, the greatest common causes of air pollution are; Sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, and oxides of nitrogen, the number of people living in the country depending mainly on polluting technologies and coals and gases for cooking is used to determined the population exposure to domestic air contamination. Families primarily cooking with stoves, charcoal, coal, stables, wood, kerosene, dung are allegedly exposed to the contaminants. According to recent reports, its significant to note that almost half of the human population is exposed to domestic air pollution as a consequence of using wood, charcoal, dung and polluting machineries especially in poor and average income countries, with more than eighty percent of African countries, sixty percent of south-eastern Asia, forty-two percent of the western pacific region chiefly depending on contaminating cooking choices, eastern Mediterranean region also have thirty percent of its population depend on polluting fuels whereas, Americas and European have less than fifteen percent of population exposed to household air pollution.(W.H.O. et al, 2018. Exposure to household air pollution 2016).

The data presented above is the result of survey done to know the proportion of the population relying on the fuels polluting sources and the possible increase of domestic air pollution while ambient contaminants also have greater effects on our bodies as per the level of exposure.

Deprived air quality affects many people’s lives around the globe, air contamination has been connected to greater number of premature deaths, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, respiratory infections. In the U.S more than forty percent of the country’s population are at risk of diseases and untimely death due to air pollution (CHRISTINA NUNEZ et al, 2019. AIR POLLUTION EXPLAINED),

There are three ways of defining the effect of different pollutants, these include; epidemiology, experimental exposures of animals and human beings and clinical studies.

Experimental contact of various organism under precise situations to different concentrations concerning how the pollutants effects, exposure of men is limited to concentrations and quantity of pollutants absorbed without negative response.

Clinical studies chiefly deal with observations made on those who have already exposed to air pollutants unrestrained conditions. Observation include; industry workers, drivers, those living in a contaminated places and other working groups.

Epidemiological, deal with the association between the supply of definite infections in man and the aspects that are connected with it. (M N Rao & H V N Rao, Tata McGraw-Hill, 2007)

It also shows evidence on the effect of coarse particulate matter on respiratory and cardiovascular health, (Environmental Protection Agency) integrate valuation for particulate matter and conclude that, short-term epidemiological studies reported positive connection between mortality, respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admission. Black carbon is the most common strongly light absorbing element of particulate matter and it’s released directly into the space in the form of smooth fine and ultrafine particles. (U.S. EPA. Website).

Another study reported that intake of ultrafine carbon particles (38 nm, 180 µgm-3 for 24 hours) triggered increased heart-rate and decreased heart-rate variability in rats however, there was no inflammatory change in the expression of gene having thrombogenic relevance and in human beings, a concentration of (2 hours, 90 µm-3) coming into contact with coarse particulate matter, creates minor measurable physiological reactions in healthy youths volunteers which is comparable in possibility and degree to that of volunteers exposed to fine particles, suggesting that both size segments are analogous in bringing cardiopulmonary deviations in acute exposure situation. (Mark LI and MALLAT, 2018)

Air pollution and many adverse health conditions are closely connected, all these effects vary from subclinical to pre-mature death such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, eye irritation, intensification of cardiac morbidity, weaken immune system and triggering of non-communicable diseases. Around the globe many who are living in big cities, with increased level air pollutants, especially children, infirm and aged people, also those with chronic illnesses are at danger of emergent pneumonia, asthma and other respiratory diseases, for the reason that children are open-air and minute aeriation, infirm and elderly people have weak immune system that cannot resist any foreign invasion hence, they are vulnerable to the risks of air pollution.

The environmental effects of some air pollution is another serious factor to the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem, toxic air pollutants like oxides of Sulphur, Nitrogen reacts with moisture and CO2 to form acid rain which destroys crops, vegetation, death of aquatic animals and damages buildings, leaching of minerals from the soil, diminishing the amount of nutrients.

Conclusion & recommendation;

Air pollution is going to be a major alarming issue in the near future, with an important consequence on the provision industry, this upcoming problem have already affected the rate of death and the relative incidence of a certain disease in many life-threatening conditions which include; respiratory infections, stroke, cardiopulmonary diseases, permanent gene mutation in some cases and other health effects, environmental degradations, however, air pollution can be controlled or reduced when individual cease to us air polluting substances. This can be done by reducing fuels combustions, and turn to other ways of preventing air pollution by investing in solar and wind energy, introduction of other renewable energy to decrease frequent burning of fossils. In any home people safety measure against interior pollution by increasing ventilation, checking radon gas with purifiers.

Governments should set law and regulations to guide factories and other processing firms to decrease the level of pollutants emitted into the space. Replacing gasoline-fueled cars with zero-emission vehicles, Consideration should be done by the public authorities to deliver standard record and prediction of air pollution level, indorse air pollution in the list of upcoming perils that should be observed by risk management, public awareness on the effects of air pollutants, environment and health should be prompted in making researches and publication of articles concerning air pollution and community-based interventions.


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