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Air pollution

Air pollution is defined as any contamination of the atmosphere that disturbs the natural composition and chemistry of the air.

Types of air pollution

  • Particulate matter such as dust.
  • Smoke.
  • Harmful gases – such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other vapours that cannot be effectively removed through natural cycles, such as the carbon or nitrogen cycle.

Sources of air pollution

  • Exhaust fumes from vehicles.
  • The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or gas.
  • Harmful off-gasing from things such as paint, plastic production, and so on.
  • Radiation spills or nuclear accidents.
  • Forest fires, volcanic eruptions, dry soil erosion, and other natural sources.
  • Building construction or demolition.

Effects of air pollution

Depending on the concentration of air pollutants, several effects can be noticed.

  • Increased incidences of smog.
  • Higher rain acidity.
  • Crop depletion from inadequate oxygen.
  • Higher rates of asthma, allergies and other respiratory diseases.

UnIon Carbide Toxic Gas Release in Bhopal, India

On the night of December 2nd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal.

Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 25,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure.

UnIon Carbide Toxic Gas Release in Bhopal

Image: International Business Times