Air pollution

Air pollution

This animation demonstrates the main sources of air pollution: agriculture, industry and urban settlements.

Geography

Keywords

air pollution, smog, climate change, pollution, environmental pollution, contamination, environmental protection, greenhouse effect, greenhouse gas, global warming, light pollution, heat pollution, noise pollution, gas emission, acidic, agriculture, industry, transportation, settlement, air, rain, sulphur dioxide, soot, carbon dioxide, crop production, animal husbandry, geography, environment, nature, society

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Scenes

Air pollution

  • agricultural air pollution
  • urban air pollution
  • industrial air pollution

Agricultural air pollution

  • gas emission
  • chemical emission
  • carbon dioxide and soot emission
  • rice production
  • intensive farming - Chemicals and fertilisers enter the atmosphere due to spraying plants.
  • fertilisation, pesticide use
  • forest fire
  • forest fire - During forest fires, ash, nitrates and organic carbon enter the atmosphere. These substances have a negative effect on the ecosystem.
  • intensive livestock farming - Animals release gases into the atmosphere.

Industrial air pollution

  • emission into the atmosphere
  • smoke, soot, carbon dioxide sulphur dioxide
  • spreading in the atmosphere

Urban air pollution

  • heat pollution - Waste heat, produced by buildings, factories and traffic, can be carried to large distances by winds, further raising the average temperature on Earth.
  • gas emission
  • noise pollution
  • traffic
  • urban traffic - Motor vehicles emit nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, soot and over a thousand other types pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • traffic, industrial production

Narration

Air is vital to life. Despite its importance, air pollution has become a global issue.
Air pollution occurs when excessive amounts of contaminating materials are released into the air. It is harmful to humans and other living things; it can lead to respiratory diseases, poisoning, suffocation or death. Air pollution can affect vast areas, as contaminating materials can travel large distances.

Industry is responsible for a great deal of air pollution. The branch that pollutes the atmosphere most is the energy industry, as power plants emit enormous amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and solid particles. The by-products of industrial processes, such as solvents, aerosols, dust and exhaust gases, also contaminate the air. Cement production is one of the most polluting industrial processes.

Agriculture contributes to air pollution too. Besides substances resulting from the evaporation of pesticides and fertilisers, methane and nitrogen oxides produced by the unique digestive system of ruminants also play a role in intensifying the greenhouse effect. Deforestation also leads to an increase in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, because the remaining vegetation can bind less carbon dioxide. Moreover, the burning of plant material releases toxic gases and solid particles into the atmosphere.

Urban areas emit a lot of carbon dioxide due to motorised traffic and the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas or coal. In large cities, the main reason for air pollution and the formation of smog is motorised traffic. Smog can form both in the winter and the summer, in areas with heavy traffic, where the air hardly moves. The majority of contaminating substances, for example, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, found in the air in urban areas are emitted by vehicles powered by combustion engines. These vehicles release thousands of other pollutants as well, such as soot.

There are a whole lot of things you can do to preserve good air quality. Instead of driving your car, ride a bicycle, walk or use various means of public transport. However, if you choose to drive, use environmentally friendly electric vehicles. Do not burn waste materials. You can compost almost every kind of plant residue. Collect every other type of waste in selective containers. Use renewable energy sources in your household when it comes to cooking, lighting and heating.

Collective action must be taken by the entire society to tackle the problem of air pollution. We must start to use renewable energy sources at social level, and we must make our buildings more energy-efficient. To be able to reduce the number of cars on the roads, we must improve public transport and build bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly road networks. If we used less chemicals in the fields, raised fewer animals, and burnt down less forests, then less toxic substances would be released into the air. We can also reduce air pollution through proper waste management.

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