Indoor Air Pollution
People should care about indoor air quality since they spend most of their time (about 70-98%) in indoor. Indoor air pollution comes from many different sources and in various forms. The sources of indoor air pollution are various: Radon, Mold, VOCs, Carbon Monoxide, PCBs, Nitrogen Oxides, and Asbestos. These are from fuel combustion, manmade materials at home, and natural sources.
Simply indoor air pollution creates health problems like coughing, headaches, and dizziness as short term effects. In 2000, according to guardian, 800,000 people died because of air pollution. According to WorstPolluted, indoor air pollution brings about 3 million deaths each year. It constitutes 4 percent of the global burden of disease. This is large number to think, however, it is still increasing.
Indoor air pollution can bring short term and long term effects to humans. Long term effects are such as asthma, lung cancer, allergies, skin disease, and respiratory diseases. First of all, radon, product of uranium decay, leads lung cancer. Asbestos, usually used in pipe insulation and floor tile. This also leads to lung cancer. If people live in home with pipe insulation and floor tile that contain asbestos for long, there is a high risk of lung cancer. PCBs, are toxic compound that was once widely used. EPA banned PCBs in 1979. PCBs are in paints, caulks, dielectrics and capacitors, leading headaches, cough, and lung cancer. Another source of indoor air pollution is VOCs, which is volatile organic compound. VOCs also lead various health problems such as dizziness, irregular breathing, nerve disorders, and possible cancers. There are numerous health problems from indoor air pollution sources. When air is polluted, it directly harms human beings.
Developed countries such as US, Canada, and most of the EU countries face indoor air pollution. There are several reasons. They used to burn coal and wood for heating and now use natural gas, propane, and electricity for heating. Furthermore, natural gas and electricity are used for cooking at home and restaurants. Indoor air pollution is that developed countries cannot get rid of because manmade materials causing pollution exist in all homes. Indoor air pollution directly harms human health including lung cancer, allergies, asthma, and respiratory diseases. For example Radon, Asbestos, and Tobacco smoke possibly cause lung cancer.
Not only developed countries suffer, but also developing countries like China and India also suffer from indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution is getting serious in developing countries and poor has the greatest risk. According to the guardian, in fact, more than 2.1m people in Asia died due to air pollution. Among these deaths, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China and 712,000 in south Asia and India (theguardian). This large number makes people think that air pollution is such a serious problem right now. The main reasons for indoor air pollution is hazardous materials. Cooking fires and plastic create poorly living and working area in developing countries. Large number of rural households cook with dried dung, which results in poor indoor air quality. It resulted in 11,628 Delhi children had over 4 times more iron-laden white blood cells than children in less polluted environment (firstpost). In addition, the number of smokers is rising.
These are crucial problem to be considered by everyone on the Earth because air is important for survival. Even though both developed and developing countries have ruined indoor air quality for decades, there are solutions for the future. One solution is the prevention approach. This method includes stricter standards like ban smoking, higher standards for home building materials chemical content, and radon infiltration. Especially decreasing the number of smokers can be helpful to keep healthy condition at indoor. Another solution is clean-up or dilution approach. This method can be done by increasing the circulation of clean air through rooftop greenhouses, increasing out outdoor air intake, and using efficient ventilation system for both wood burning stoves and fuel combustion. And even stronger regulations and enforcement like Clean air acts can prevent further pollution.
Outdoor/ambient Air Pollution
Air pollution has been the crucial problem worldwide. Specifically China suffers so much from air pollution that they cannot even see clear sky during the day because of air pollutants. Even outdoor air pollution from China affect to neighbor countries like South Korea. Ambient air pollution can be caused naturally and artificially. First of all, natural causes of ambient air pollution are volcanoes, plants, dust, wildfires, and withdrawing groundwater that emit sulfur oxides, nitrogenous compounds, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Artificial causes of ambient air pollution are manmade pollutions mainly from industries. For example fossil fuels, transportation, and power plants. Manmade ambient air pollution contain fuel combustion like oxides of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and metal fumes. Human activities tend to take big portion of ambient air pollution than natural activities.
Outdoor air pollution effects negatively on every living organisms on the planet: humans, plants, animals, and property. Air pollution emitted by human and natural causes directly influence humans and animals. Air pollution contaminate both air and land. Air pollution substance can cause dust, ozone, smog, and acid rain. For example, China and India suffer from smog produced by cars and factories. Industrial smog can contaminate air extremely. In India, photosynthesis is reduced by 7%. And as a result, air pollution substances directly affect to human and animal health when they breathe. Those pollutants can cause disease on organ and chest. Asthma is another example of negative result. Not only human and animal get harm from ambient air pollution. Just like human and animals, plants also breathe to live. Harmful pollutants negatively affect to plant’s growth. Acid rain, a typical rain that has a pH of 4.6, is the one significantly affect to entire ecosystem including plants and property. Acid rain contaminates water resources like lake and sea, and destroys property like building. For example, excess acidity brings negative outcomes to 30% of China’s cropland. Outdoor air pollution is complex problem. It does not affect only one species or place but whole planet. For example, 33% of the mercury in the LA skies come from China. Air pollutants exist and affect everywhere, decreasing the air quality and killing living organisms.
According to Wisconsin DNR, open burning is burning any material outdoors without any air pollution controls in place or any permits. People burn various things such as wood, plastic, and garbage outside without any air pollution controls. And there are many reasons. Farmers burn crops and land for purpose. People burn leaves, brush, and wood to clean the environment. Open burning creates smoke and ash that harm human health. Furthermore, burning plastics can release potentially cancer-causing chemicals into the air.
Because of these reasons, it is important to burn materials under burn permits and controlled situation. DNR suggests several alternative disposal methods for better air quality including composting, recycling, and landfilling. These are simple activities. Preventing outdoor air pollution can be done easily at home and business through daily recycling and composting.
For better air quality, it is important to use less polluting fuels, improve fuel efficiency and encourage people to buy energy efficient cars. Emission controls and stricter standards would help to less the air pollution for the future. In addition, developed countries need to help developing countries to improve energy efficiency and set strict standards by sharing their technology and experiences. If people start to make small changes like recycling and using public transportation, the ambient air condition would be clear and better than now.
Climate Change and Ozone
Climate change has become one of the biggest problem on our planet. Last few decades, people became more aware of climate change and finally human start to take action to fix the problem. Earth temperature records show that there are extreme fluctuations since the 20th century. From 1906 to 2005, average temperature increased about 0.74 ?C. As human developed convenient way of living, the actions caused the climate change. It is largely known that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities contribute to current climate change.
The main sources of climate change are CO2, CH4, and N20 emissions since the Industrial Revolution. First is carbon dioxide. It comes from various factors like human respiration, fossil fuels, and deforestation. One factor is human because increased number of human create more carbon dioxide. According to EPA, the current CO2 level is higher than it has been in at least 800,000 years. Furthermore, decreasing the number of trees is another reason. Many forests are disappeared due to development so that there is not enough number of trees that can use CO2 to make oxygen. Not only carbon dioxide, but also methane from human and natural activities contribute to greenhouse gas. Last source is nitrous oxide that is produced by agricultural activities. Agriculture has increased 20 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions from the use of nitrogen fertilizer last 275 years. These are main sources of the problem today. It is fact that human activities contribute to climate change by producing main sources.
Mainly greenhouse gases lead to a steady temperature increase. And this effects significantly on living things like humans, plants, and animals. Simply, the increasing temperature creates difficult living circumstance. For example, when temperature increases, the glaciers melt so that polar bears have nowhere to go. According to Arctic Climate Impact Assessment in 2004, 10-20% of the permafrost might melt this century. They lose their habitats. Moreover, this melting increases the water levels, that can affect to human living in shorelines.
Developing and developed countries are both impacted by climate change. For example people in Bangladesh and India suffer from water. They find it harder to get drinking water. In addition, increased temperature bring droughts and destroy agriculture. In developed countries, people face air pollution like smog. Developing countries and developed countries suffer from different situations caused by climate change, however, they are connected to each other and it will continue in the future.
Global dimming is the decreased amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Earth. Pollutions at atmosphere block sunlight. This cause serious problems such as a drought in sub-Saharan Africa since pollutions block water cycles including evaporation. A drought directly affect to living organisms.
Current situation looks destructive. Greenhouse gases already have destroyed big portion of life on the earth. However, it does not mean that there is no solution. Fortunately people can still make change through their actions. If people use public transportation or buy a fuel-efficient vehicle, there would be less carbon dioxide in the road, producing less carbon dioxide. If people recycle daily, use heating and cooling smartly, and use water efficiently, they can less greenhouse gas emissions. These are small and simple actions that can be done in daily life by anyone. EPA’s partner reduced over 345 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2010. And Clean Power Plan expect to decrease carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005 levels. These are examples of positive aspects of what people are doing about climate change. They make differences for better future.