Air Pollution and its Impact on Health and the Environment
Air pollution is an issue that mankind has been struggling with for over a century. At first, it was mostly separate cases of smog caused incidents, which was the result of the growing amount of factories in cities, that was in itself sparked by the industrial evolution. This problem only got worse as the urbanization process continued, and then even more so as the number of cars grew exponentially in the 30s and onward, especially since back then there were barely any regulations when it comes to fuel quality, and practically none when it comes to exhaust fumes. As the population of the world continued to grow and many countries became more and more industrialized, these issues escalated to such a degree, that they could no longer be simply swept under the rug. The air quality in some major cities was simply abysmal, causing serious health issues for many, and global warming was finally getting noticed by scientists worldwide. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, across many countries, the first air pollution laws were set into place. This process continued into the 80s, 90s and onward, as these rules became more solid and strict, and as more countries joined in the effort. Nowadays, in places like the EU, UK and New Zealand, there are many regulations that manufacturers and importers of all kinds of products and goods have to abide by, that ensure better air quality – such as the European Emission Standards for automobiles.
After that short history lesson, let’s get into what kind of impacts exactly Air Pollution can have.
Firstly, when it comes to the health of people, the correlation between how clean the air we breathe is, and how well off we are, has not only been proven by countless studies but is also rather obvious. Nowadays, air pollution still kills an estimated 4 million people yearly around the world. In other words, it is the reason for 1 in 8 deaths. This frightening statistic is due to a multitude of issues that can be caused by bad air quality, which range from asthma to strokes, heart diseases and even lung cancer. If you would like to learn more about the air quality in your area, you can visit sites such as waqi.info and aqicn.org, which provide real-time visual maps with trustworthy information gathered from research stations.
Air Pollution is also a big problem for the environment as a whole, not just for mankind. It is one of the main reasons for a large amount of ecological issues, and is a major threat to Earth’s ecosystems. It causes acid rains, field deterioration, and probably the biggest problems of them all – global warming and climate change, as the huge amounts of gases such as CO2 and methane that are released into the atmosphere on a constant basis lead exactly to that.
All of this negative information may be a bit discouraging, however, it should instead act as a wake-up call. More has to be done to reduce air pollution, and it has to happen now, before it is too late. There are plenty of things you can do to help – you can donate to a foundation that deals with these kinds of issues either on a local or a global level and you can participate in citizen movements against air pollution, for example. Other steps towards living a greener life can be found in many of our other articles, so we encourage you to read them!
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