Common Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, and Our Way of Thinking

The quality of the air we breathe is an essential factor in the maintenance of our health. It is sad however that the advances in our technology have resulted in the development of chemicals and machines that pollute this important necessity. A large number of studies have pointed out, unequivocally, the need to rectify this situation. Despite this awareness, most people are unwilling to sacrifice certain conveniences for the sake of the environment.

Six Common Air Pollutants At Ground Level

There are six main air pollutants whose sources a person serious about the environment should avoid using, or if there is no other recourse, at least limit its spread to ground-level atmosphere.

The most common one is ozone from vehicle exhaust and emissions from factories. Ozone may be something beneficial if it is in the upper atmosphere. However, it results in health problems if inhaled. It is also produce through the interaction between certain plastics and the air. Other pollutants from the same source are carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and lead. There have been significant strides in limiting the production of these gases by cars and factories. However, because of their widespread use and their need by an ever increasing population worldwide, scientists are setting the bar at zero emissions.

Another pollutant, sulfur oxide, also stems from the transportation industry. It comes from locomotives and ships. The sixth main pollutant is particulate matter from burning various materials like cigarettes, plastics, paper, etc. This burning result in small particles, about 2.5 micrometers in size, easily carried by the wind which may enter the lungs and from there the bloodstream.

A Change In Our Way Of Thinking Is In Order

The prevailing mentality, inadvertently, is that air pollution is a National concern so the government should address it. The citizenry’s participation is not needed because they, through their taxes, employ agencies like the EPA to solve this concern for them. Thus, they should not be compelled to modify their way of life.

This way of thinking will not yield the desired results. In reality, everybody contributes to the problem, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly. In order to achieve any measurable impact on the problem, the solution should be one that everyone actively supports. Even if it deprives them of certain things they have become used to.

Things are not entirely dreary. Petroleum based products that fuel the majority of modern day cars is one of the roots of this problem. The recent development of electric and alternative fuel cars which do not emit air pollutants bodes well for the future. Their popularity is being helped along by the rising cost of petrochemical fuels like gasoline.

A comparison between a densely populated city, in a third world country like the Philippines, with a similarly dense city in Europe, which takes the control or air pollutants seriously, will show the difference the right mentality can achieve. In places where people are serious about controlling the threat of air pollution through a change in lifestyle and choice of equipment, the citizens are healthier, live longer, and enjoy their surroundings better.

Source by Tito II Pontilan

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