Air Pollution: Type & Health Effects


Air pollution can be broadly defined as the toxic chemicals or compounds which causes health hazards. These compounds are usually not present in the air and therefore their presence causes detrimental changes in living world.

What are the different types of air pollutants?

1. Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases are the result of the burning of fossil fuels. This increase the temperature of the earth by trapping the sun radiation, therefore, results in a secondary type of pollution like smog and climate change.

2. Smog

Smog is a combination of smoke and fog. This results from greenhouse gases, burning of agriculture by-products, car and other vehicle pollutants. Smog results in respiratory-related diseases, coughing, asthma, irritation of eyes and chest, it also affects plants by forming a thin layer on leaves. Long-term exposure to smog also increases the chances of cancer.

3. Toxic air pollutants

Gases like benzene, toluene and xylene, liquid aerosols, and metals like cadmium, mercury, chromium, lead, etc. come under toxic air pollutants. Toxic air pollutants are the possible reason for cancers and many serious health-related problems.

What are the major sources of air pollution?

1. Natural activity

A natural activity like the volcanic eruption, dust storms, forest fires, gas leak from the core etc. causes the release of gases and dust particulates and shoots into the atmosphere.

2. Human activity

An activity like industrialization, transportation means, agriculture, mining etc. also results in the deterioration of air quality.

Effect of Air Pollution on health

Effect of air pollution on human health can be imagined by the reports of WHO (1) which estimated around 7 million people died of air pollution-related diseases. These diseases include heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases and cancer.

People who are most prone to this hazardous effect of the toxic blanket are children’s, elder citizens and pregnant ladies. Although people are alarmed by the present situation they don’t know how to cope with and what precautions should take to fight this problem.

Personal contribution to reducing air pollution

Air pollution is a major problem which we have to face in present and in our future. But the collaborative effort can reduce the pollution hazards. Government and we as an individual should act and cooperate with each other to reduce this monstrous problem. Some of the remedies and effort we should take in grass root level is given in the article Pollution: how can we contribute to making the environment better?

Some other steps which can reduce air pollution are

1. We should minimise the use of crackers during the festivals.

2. The government should provide an alternative method against crop burning to the farmers. The government can build a composed pit or biogas pit where a farmer can dispose its agricultural waste.

3. We should not step out if Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 200 as the approved AQI by WHO is 60.

4. Mopping instead the use of brooms may helpful in controlling indoor pollution level.

5. Planting air purifying plants also soothes the indoor environment.

6. Use of public transport instead of personal vehicles also helps in the reduction of hazardous gases as pollutants.

7. Use of air purifier indoor also helps in the reduction of pollution particles and maintains the AQI.

Now it’s high time to act on the ground level to fight against air pollution. If we do not give attention today to this problem then there is a very high possibility that we cannot save ourselves and will be forced to live in global garbage.


  1. WHO Air Pollution and Health


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