Week 3

Topic: Air Pollution

Meaning of Air Pollution

Air pollution is the process of making air unsuitable for breathing by both plants and animals.

Air-borne solids that pollute the air include, dust released by industrial process, lead dust e.g. lead (II) bromide is released from the exhaust pipes of moving engines using leaded petrol. The release of poisonous gases such as sulphur (IV) oxide, carbon (II) oxide, hydrogen sulphide from exhaust pipes of engines causes air pollution. In our homes, we use firewood, coal, etc. as fuel. Gases are released from these fuels into the air causing pollution.

Sources of Air Pollution

The main air pollutants include:

  1. Tiny solids/dust particles.
  2. Oxides of carbon from burning coal-smoke.
  3. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen-from burning coal, crude oil.
  4. Gaseous hydrocarbon and chlorofluorocarbons.
  5. Noise / sound from blaring of loudspeakers.

Consequences of Air Pollution

Pollutants and their effects include:

  Kinds of Air Pollutants Effects on Plants and Animals
  Smoke, soot and dust from burning of coal and firewood When inhaled, they damage respiratory organs-lungs. They are also harmful to plants.
  Lead dust If inhaled, it accumulates in the body and becomes toxic to the body. Also destroys farm produce.
  Smog (Mixture of air and smoke) It reduces visibility and causes respiratory diseases in animals.
  Oxides of carbon, especially carbon (II) oxide and carbon (IV) oxide Reduce the amount of oxygen carried by blood to the body causing brain damage at high concentration. Plants make use of carbon (IV) oxide and water in the presence of sunlight to manufacture carbohydrate in a process known as photosynthesis.
  Oxides of nitrogen and sulphur When dissolve in rain water forms acid rain which is harmful to plants and animals. They also cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tissue.
  Hydrocarbons found in exhaust pipes of cars It can cause cancer.

Control of Air Pollution

  1. Air pollution can be controlled by using anti-pollution devices by motor vehicles, aircraft, ships, etc.
  2. Producing more efficient combusting fuel.
  3. Educating people on the dangers of air pollution.
  4. Enacting laws that will punish organizations and individuals whose activities pollute water.