Man – Environment – Pollution
The surrounding environment has always been something from which one can take what man needs (water resources) and where to discharge, discard what we do not need is waste.
Not only human activity has transformed living environment but also the biosphere.
Environmental pollution – the formation of substances and physical factors that are naturally occurring in the environment or cannot directly affect humans and other living organisms.
We consider formation of environmental pollution and environmental quality degradation to be the most significant negative human type of environmental impact.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the BreatheLife2030 initiative, which aims to encourage responsible authorities to adopt measures that will help improve air quality.
There is also a tool on the initiative page to see how polluted the air is in different cities.
But What Exactly Does Pollution Do?
Let’s face it with the harshest data: air pollution kills over 7 million people every year.
It would shock if it caused such numbers, for example, by the flu (yesterday, it killed around 80,000 people, and that is a lot). With foul air, we will live somehow quietly and peacefully (not).
Asthma and Other Respiratory Diseases
The most noticeable thing that polluted air does to the body – it becomes difficult to breathe, a cough appears, the airways become inflamed.
Over time, this can lead to asthma, making breathing even harder. 10 micron particles can settle in the bronchi and lungs and do their misfortune there, including reducing lung function, promoting pneumonia and, unfortunately, cancer.
True, 2.5 micron particles are even more dangerous – they enter the bloodstream. Purely to understand it – the particles are so small that a pile of 60 such put together is about the thickness of a human hair.
Once in the bloodstream, contaminants damage the arteries, contributing to the formation of deposits that can eventually lead to a heart attack.
We should pay particular attention to expectant mothers – inflammatory processes caused by air pollution in the body can also occur in the fetus, which in the worst case also leads to miscarriage or premature birth.
Yes, of course, from the bloodstream it all enters the brain, where the processes they cause become quite interesting.
Education, Career and Future
There is a growing body of research showing that air pollution also affects the ability to assess situations adequately, causes mental health problems and poorer school performance, and, strangely enough, higher crime rates.
For example, in 2011, Sefi Roth, a researcher at the prestigious London School of Economics, found out how air pollution affects exam results. His students took exams on different days, which also had different levels of air pollution.
Other indicators were unchanged – the exam room was the same, the level of education of students was similar. The difference in the results was quite shocking – on the days when the air quality was the worst, the results of the exams had also fallen sharply.
Even in the previous and following days, the results immediately improved – together with the air.
However, the scientist did not stop at this discovery and found out what effect such a factor has 8-10 years later.
And, behold, those who took the exams on the most polluted days and received the worst results were more likely to end up in the worst universities and to earn less – the particular exam was very important for further education.
So, even if the direct effect of air pollution is short, it can have a significant impact on later life. Another study conducted in 2016 also confirms this hypothesis – it found that air pollution reduces productivity.
But that’s not the end. Last year, Mr Rota and his team analyzed data on crime in London, and it turns out that even petty crime is more prevalent on polluted days, both in the richer and poorer neighborhoods of London.
It is also interesting that the data on the increase in crime follow the pollution cloud – where the cloud goes, there is also a tendency to break the law.
And while this team of scientists has not found a link between air pollution and serious crime – murder, rape – researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found one.
Respectively, according to their study, the most polluted cities in the United States have the highest crime rates, including serious crimes.
Medicine explains this causal relationship with contaminated microparticles, which can cause inflammatory processes in the brain.
Doctors believe that this can damage the frontal lobe of the brain, where the centers responsible for impulse control, effective functioning, and self-control are located. The more inflammatory, the wilder the self-control.
It remains to conclude that on a hot summer day it is better not to sit on the terrace in the city. Of course, the possibilities for influencing air quality ourselves are relatively small.
However, as long as the fathers of the city put this issue in order, there is at least an opportunity to monitor the air quality, go to the countryside on weekends.
Effects Of Outdoor Air Pollution On Human Health
Clean atmospheric air contains oxygen (21%), nitrogen (78%), carbon dioxide (0.03%), several inert gases (eg argon (0.93%) and water vapor (up to 4% by volume).
The air also contains gases that can be harmful in increased concentrations – ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, incl. carcinogenic substances (benzene and butadiene) and airborne particles – aerosols comprising solid particles and / or droplets of various sizes.
Air pollution harms human health and the environment. In Europe, emissions of much air pollutants have fallen significantly in recent decades, leading to improved air quality throughout the region.
However, concentrations of air pollutants are still too high and air quality problems persist. A significant proportion of Europe’s population lives in areas, especially cities, where air quality standards are exceeded – ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) pollution poses a significant risk to health.
Several countries have exceeded one or more of their 2010 emission limits for four important air pollutants. Therefore, reducing air pollution remains important.
Air pollution is a local European and also hemispherical issue. We can release air pollutants released in one country into the atmosphere, contributing to or causing deterioration in air quality elsewhere.
Airborne particles, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone are currently identified as the three air pollutants that have the greatest impact on human health.
Prolonged and maximum exposure to these air pollutants has consequences of varying degrees of severity, from respiratory dysfunction to premature death.
About 90% of Europe’s urban population is exposed to concentrations of pollutants over air quality levels that are harmful to health.
For example, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is estimated to shorten life expectancy in the EU by over eight months. Benzo (a) pyrene is a carcinogenic pollutant of growing concern.
Concentrations of this substance in several cities, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, exceed the limit values set for protecting human health. Air pollution also harms the environment:
- Between 1990 and 2010, acidification was significantly reduced in areas of Europe’s sensitive ecosystems affected by acid deposition of excess sulfur and nitrogen compounds.
- With regard to eutrophication, an environmental problem caused by excessive nutrient use in ecosystems, little progress has been made. The area of sensitive ecosystems affected by excessive nitrogen in the atmosphere decreased only slightly between 1990 and 2010.
- High concentrations of ozone affect vegetation (causing crop damage), especially in agricultural areas in central and eastern Europe.
Air quality in Europe has not always improved in line with the overall reduction in anthropogenic (anthropogenic) emissions of air pollutants. The causes of this problem are complex:
- there is not always a clear linear link between emissions and reductions in air pollutants;
- air pollutants are increasingly moving long distances to Europe from other countries in the northern hemisphere.
Therefore, targeted emission reduction measures are still needed to further protect human health and the environment in Europe.
European Union Policy
The EU’s long-term goal is to achieve air quality levels that do not pose unacceptable effects and risks to human health and the environment.
The EU is taking action at several levels to reduce exposure to air pollution, through legislation, cooperation with air polluting industries, international, national and regional authorities and non-governmental organizations, and research.
EU policy aims to reduce exposure to air pollution by reducing emissions and setting limits and target values for air quality. At the end of 2013, the European Commission adopted the proposed Clean Air Quality Package, including additional measures to reduce air pollution.
Activities of the European Environment Agency
The European Environment Agency (EEA) is the European Union’s air pollution data center, supporting the implementation of EU legislation on air emissions and air quality.
The EEA also contributes to the evaluation of EU air pollution policy and the development of long-term strategies to improve air quality in Europe.
The EEA’s work focuses on:
- Comprehensive publication of air pollution data;
- Documenting and evaluating air pollution trends and related policies and measures in Europe;
- Exploring trade-offs and synergies between air pollution and policies in various areas, including climate change, energy, transport and industry.
10 Types Of Pollution
- Water Pollution
- Visual Pollution
- Thermal Pollution
- Radioactive Contamination
- Soil Contamination
- Plastic Contamination
- Noise Pollution
- Light Pollution
- Air Pollution
The Bottom Line
No matter how prestigious region is a person is living in, it is difficult to avoid air pollution. The air is all around us and the microscopic contaminants in it can enter the body freely.
Through the respiratory system, air enters the respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and blood vessels.