What are the different types of air pollution and their sources?

What are the different types of air pollution and their sources?

Due to man-made and natural causes, the levels of various gaseous elements in the air such as carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) lead (Pb), particulatesmatter etc., increase more than their safe levels.

The presence of these gaseous elements is the main cause of air pollution. So there are different types of air pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States federal government identified mainly six types of air pollution.

  • Air pollution due to carbon monoxide
  • Air pollution for sulfur dioxide
  • Air pollution due to nitrogen dioxide
  • Air pollution for ozone gas
  • Air pollution due to particulates matter
  • Air pollution for lead

In addition to these six types of air pollution, we know the causes of several other types of air pollution which also causes air pollution. These reasons are,

  • Air pollution due to hydrocarbons
  • Air pollution for hydrogen sulfide gas
  • Air pollution due to chloro fluorocarbons
  • Air pollution for chlorine

The main six types of air pollution and their sources are discussed below.

Air Pollution Due To Carbon Monoxide (CO)

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas and also known as primary pollutant. It is a Lewis alkali as well as strong field ligand.

What are the sources of carbon monoxide?

Most of the CO originates from incomplete combustion of carbonaceous matter in automobile engines and defective furnaces, incomplete combustion of agricultural and slash matter and also by the interaction of CO2 with coke at high temperature in industrial furnaces.

Some natural processes such as forest fires, volcanicactivity, lightening discharge during storms, etc. also release less extent of CO gas.

Major portion of CO gas originates due to human activity. About 73 % is contributed by vehicular exhausts and about 17 % by forest fires and agriculture and slash burning.

Industrial processes involved in steel, paper and petroleum industries contribute 9 % of CO and the natural phenomena contribute only 1%.

What is the effect of carbon monoxide on environment?

Blood hemoglobin has more affinity for carbon monoxide than oxygen. That is why hemoglobin combines with carbon monoxide to form a stable complex compound called carboxy hemoglobin.

As a result, the supply of oxygen to the cell is stopped. It has been observed that if there is 1 volume of carbon monoxide in 1150 volumes of air, then death occurs within half an hour.

Besides, symptoms of nausea, dizziness, etc. are seen in the presence of a small amount of carbon monoxide.

Due to the presence of carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke, smokers suffer from headaches due to the high amount of CO in their blood.

Air pollution for sulfur dioxide (SO2)

What is sulfur dioxide?

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a gaseous primary pollutant that one of the causes of air pollution. This is the most harmful pollutant.

What are the sources of sulfur dioxide?

About 60 % of the total sulfur dioxide is contributed by natural activity and the rest by human activity.

This pollutant is produced during roasting of sulfide ores, combustion of sulfur bearing fuels such as coal and oil, sulfuric acid production industry and from volcanic eruption.

It also produced from petrol refineries and cements manufacturing industry.

What are the effects of sulfur dioxide?

Sulfur dioxide contamination can irritate the lining of the nose, throat and lungs.

This can cause narrowing of the airways. The result is difficulty in breathing. Sulfur dioxide also causes inflammation in the airways, causing coughing and more mucus. Sulfur dioxide causes asthma, bronchitis etc.

Air pollution due to nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

What is nitrogen dioxide?

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gaseous primary pollutant that enters into the air directly from the source and cause of air pollution.

What are the sources of nitrogen dioxide?

Combustion of fuel, the reaction of atmospheric N2 and O2 naturally produce nitrogen dioxide gas.

Chemical fertilizer preparation and use, combustion ofbiomass, preparation of nitric acid, preparations of various types of steel, at the time of atomic explosion etc process produces huge amount of NO2 gas.

Besides these, a little amount of NO2 enters the atmosphere that formed by the dissociation of nitrogenous compounds of soil by soil bacteria.

What are the effects of nitrogen dioxide?

Nitric oxide does not directly harm human health. But its impact on the environment is greater.

This creates secondary pollutant PAN and Photochemical smog in the presence of a few other elements and sunlight in the environment.

The effects of photochemical fumes irritate the eyes, nose and cause shortness of breath. If this fog persists, there is a possibility of death.

In addition, its presence disrupts the photosynthesis process in plants.
As NO2 is a gas of acidic nature, it dissolves in rain water and causes acid rain.

Air pollution for ozone gas (O3)

What is ozone gas?

Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen gas with molecular formula, O3. It is a gaseous primary pollutant. It is a faintly bluish gas.

What are the sources of ozone gas?

Near the surface, ozone is formed by chemical reactions between the sun’s rays and nitrogen oxides emitted by biogas and automobiles, power plants, chemical plants, and other sources.

Ozone is a major component of summer air pollution episodes.

What are the effects of ozone gas?

High levels of ozone gas can cause inflammation of the airways, reduced lung capacity, and asthma. Ozone gas can also cause illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Air pollution due to particulates matter

What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter is also known as suspended particulate matter as they are micro solids or liquids that are suspended in the atmosphere.

Depending on their size, there are two types of particular matters are known. Particulates matter with diameter 2.5 micrometers and particulates matter with diameter from 2.5 micrometers to 10 micrometers.

What are the sources of particulate matter?

Particulate matter those originates due to human activities are mainly from industry, building work, diesel and petrol engines, friction from brakes and tires, and dust from road surfaces.

It also produced by the incomplete combustion of carbonaceous fossil fuels such as coal, fuel oil, natural gas, wood etc.

Natural sources of particulate matter are volcanic eruption, sea spray, flower pollen, soil etc.

What are the effects of particulate matter?

It is also formed in the atmosphere when gaseous substances such as NO2, SO2 are changed in the air by chemical reactions.

The smaller the particles, the deeper they can enter the respiratory system and they are more dangerous to breathe. Particulate matter is a problem in winter.

Irritation of nose and throat arises due to particulate matter. Particulate matter can cause asthma, bronchitis, heart attack, stroke, etc. These particles also carry toxic chemicals associated with cancer.

Air pollution for lead

What is Lead (Pb)?

Lead is a heavier metal element with chemical formula, Pb. It is also known as air pollutant.

What are the sources of Lead?

The main sources of lead in the air are lead ore, lead-acid battery manufacturers, metal processing, etc.

Also the shake resistant compound used in motor vehicles mixes lead in the air with motor vehicle smoke from tetra ethyl lead.

What are the effects of Lead?

Lead enters the human body through inhalation as a result of air pollution. It spreads throughout the body through the blood.

This has adverse effects on the nervous system, immune system, kidney function, reproductive system and cardiovascular systems.

In other words, the effects of lead cause high blood pressure and heart disease.

The effects of lead are seen in children with neurological problems. Excessive lead in the air is also harmful to the ecosystem.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store