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AIR POLLUTION

When the level of contaminants in air becomes so much that air becomes harmful
for living beings; it is called air pollution.

Causes of Air Pollution: The main causes of air pollution are as follow

(a) Exhaust from Automobiles: Most of the automobiles use fossil fuels. Burning of
fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Carbon dioxide is a
greenhouse gas. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas even at low concentrations.

(b) Exhaust from Factories and Power Plants: Coal is the main fuel being used in
factories. Burning of coal produces carbon dioxide and oxides of sulphur. Oxides of
sulphur and nitrogen form acid rain when they mix with rainwater. Acid rain is
harmful for living beings and also for buildings and monuments.

(c) Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): These are compounds of carbon and halogens and
are used as refrigerant. These are also used in pressurized cans. Excess level of
CFCs in the atmosphere damages the ozone layer. Ozone layer works like a shield
and prevents the harmful ultraviolet radiations from reaching up to the living
beings. Any damage in the ozone layer can be very harmful.

(d) Suspended Particulate Matters (SPMs): Some fine particles remain suspended in
the air. These are called suspended particulate matters. Stone quarries and various
other factories contribute to SPMs.

Effects of Air Pollution:

Greenhouse Effect: Greenhouse gases trap solar radiation which increases the
overall temperature of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and methane are examples
of greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect leads to global warming. Global
warming has resulted in melting of the glacial ice. Scientists have predicted that
many coastal cities would be completely submerged in the near future because of
glacial melting. Global warming has also caused drastic changes in weather.
Increased instances of flash floods and erratic weather are being attributed to global
warming.

Smog: A mixture of fog and smoke is called smog. Smog creates a blanket of haze in
the sky. This reduces visibility which can give trouble to pilots and drivers.

Respiratory Diseases: Cases of respiratory diseases; like asthma are on the rise
because of increased levels of air pollution.

Acid Rain: Acid rain happens because of the presence of oxides of nitrogen and
sulphur in the atmosphere. Acid rain can be very harmful for living beings.
Moreover, acid rain can also damage buildings and monuments. The case of Taj
Mahal is a reminder of the horrible effects of acid rain. The Taj Mahal was built by
using white marbles. But now-a-days, it does not look white rather looks a pale
white. Acid rain is corroding the marble of the Taj Mahal. An order by the Supreme
Court of India directed all the factories to shift from the vicinity of Taj Mahal. After
that order, only battery operated vehicles are allowed to be driven near this
monument.

Deforestation: Deforestation is a major cause of air pollution. Reduced forest cover


means there are less number of trees to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. This
has led to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.