12 Harmful Chemicals in Air Pollution – Impacts – Solutions

In the modern days, the earth is getting sicker day by day because of all the pollution in it. One of the biggest source ins from air pollution and all of its harmful chemical. Check the whole story below to know more about harmful chemicals in air pollution.

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What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is a condition in which the air quality becomes damaged and contaminated by various types of substance; both harmless and harmful to the health of the human body. Air pollution is the entry of a substance into the air, which causes the air to not function properly. This phenomenon is common in large cities as well as in industrial area that produce gases that contain substances above the limits and there are many harmful chemicals in air pollution.

Air Pollution category

The phenomenon itself can be categorised into 2;primary and secondary. The Primary air pollution source is carbon monoxide and the secondary pollution is air pollution that occurs due to the reaction between primary pollution such as depletion of ozone in the stratosphere.

Air pollutant sources can also be classified into stationary and mobile sources. The stationary source consists of power plants, industries and households. While the moving source is the activity of motor vehicle traffic and sea transportation. Air pollution can occur everywhere, for example in the home, school, and office. This pollution is often called indoor pollution. Meanwhile, outdoor pollution comes from motor vehicle emissions, industry, shipping, and natural processes by living things.

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The Sources of the phenomenon

In general, there are two sources of air pollution: pollution due to natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions, and those derived from human activities, such as those originating from transportation, plant emissions, and others. In Indonesia, approximately 70% of air pollution is caused by motor vehicle emissions. The sources of the causes of air pollution are numerous, some of which are naturally such as the eruption. The biggest sources of air pollution due to human activities such as motor vehicle fumes, cigarette smoke, garbage burning fumes and activities in the chemical industry. The destruction of the green land or trees in the area can also worsen the air quality in the place.

Air pollutant sources can also be classified into stationary and mobile sources. The stationary source consists of power plants, industries and households. While the moving source is the activity of motor vehicle traffic and sea transportation. Air pollution can occur everywhere, for example in the home, school, and office. This pollution is often called indoor pollution. Indeed, outdoor pollution comes from various activities such as motor vehicle emissions, industry, shipping, and natural processes by living things.

The more motor vehicles and industrial tools that emit gas that pollute the environment will be worse also air pollution that occurs. Therefore, government participation, entrepreneurs and society are needed to solve the air pollution problem.

From 1999 BPS data, in some big cities such as Jakarta, the largest contribution to NO2 and CO concentrations in the air that are more than 50% comes from vehicles emission. The continuing decline in air quality over the past few years shows us that the importance of promoting these emissions reductions efforts. Whether through counseling to the community or by conducting research for the implementation of emission reduction technologies.

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Types of Pollutants (The harmful chemical)

Indeed here are the harmful chemicals in air pollution:

1. Carbon Monoxide

Vehicle smoke is a major source of carbon monoxide in various urban areas. The data reveal that 60% of air pollution in Jakarta is caused by moving objects or diesel-fueled public transport.

2. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

NO2 is quite toxic especially to the lungs. NO2 who has level higher than 100 ppm can kill most of the experimental animals and 90% of these deaths are caused by symptoms of pulmonary edema. Mostly it is the result of motor vehicle fumes and industrial fuels. Nitrogen monoxide is a gas that is colorless and odorless while nitrogen dioxide has a reddish brown color and a sharp odor.

3. Carbon dioxide

It is the result of complete combustion of carbon with oxygen in the combustion of coal, oil and gas in the industry. Carbon dioxide gas can cause the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the effect of CO2 levels that exceed the required levels, causing increased geothermal.

4. Sulfur dioxide

Is a compound derived from combustion of petroleum industry, coal, eruption of Mount Merapi and also obtained from oxidation of sulphide ore. Pollution by sulfur oxide is mainly caused by two components of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfur trioxide (SO3) sulfur trioxide (SO3), both called sulfur oxides (SOx).

5. Sulfur trioxide

It is an oxidized SO2 and causes acid rain where the pH will drop to 3-4 which can lead to corrosion of the metal and the waning of paint on the painting. If people inhale it, it will form sulfuric acid in the body.

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6. Ozone (O3)

It is one of the most potent oxidizing agents after fluorine, oxygen and fluoride oxygen (OF2). Ozone absorbs strong solar radiation in the wavelength region of 240-320 nm.

Although in nature there are small amounts but the ozone layer is very useful to protect the earth from ultraviolet radiation (UV-B).

7. Hydrocarbons (HC)

Hydrocarbons in the air will react with other materials and will form new bonds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are common in industrial areas and heavy traffic. When PAH is included in the lungs will cause injury and stimulate the formation of cancer cells.

8. Chlorine (Cl2)

Chlorine gas (Cl2) is a green gas with a very stinging smell. When chlorine gas enters the lung tissue and reacts with hydrogen ions it can form highly corrosive chloride acids and cause irritation and inflammation.

9. Gas Pb

Gas Pb is a gas produced by the burning of motor vehicles. On motor vehicles added Pb to improve engine efficiency on the vehicle or to increase its octane number.

9. Particulate Dust (TSP)

Generally a particle size of dust of about 5 microns is an air particulate that can go straight into the lungs and settle in the alveoli.

10. Nitrogen oxide

Includes nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Mostly there is the result of motor vehicle fumes and industrial fuels. Nitrogen monoxide is a gas that is colorless and odorless while nitrogen dioxide has a reddish brown color and a sharp odor.

11. Tin

The highly toxic silver-gray metals of all shapes is a very dangerous threat to children under the age of 6, which they usually swallow in the form of paint flakes on the walls of the house. This heavy metal destroys intelligence, inhibits growth, reduces the ability to hear and understand language, and eliminates concentration.

12. CFC

It is the carbon that binds to chlorine and fluorine atoms. CFCs can cause ozone layer depletion because in the atmosphere C-Cl bond will break up to form free radicals that damage the ozone layer. The effects of harmful chemicals in the air include respiratory distress in humans, disturbances in plants, global warming and others.

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Levels of air pollution

According to the WHO there are 4 levels of pollution:

  1. Pollution that does not cause damage to living things
  2. The one that causes irritation if exposed
  3. Pollution that if exposed for too long leads to chronic illness,
  4. Lastly, Pollution that causes acute to those exposed

The more polluted the air we breathe, the more toxins enter the body. Which will resulting in our activities consequently can not take place optimally. To compensate for the amount of toxins that enter the body, it’ll be wise if we consume foods that is rich in nutrition and exercise our body regularly.

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Impacts of air pollution

We experience worse and many harmful chemicals in air pollution that impact to our body and overall life, here are:

1. Health impacts

Air pollutants substances in the air can enter the body through the respiratory system. The deep penetration of pollutants into the body depends on the type of pollutant. Large-sized particles can be retained in the upper respiratory tract, whereas small particulates and gases can reach the lungs. From the lungs, contaminants are absorbed by the circulatory system. The most common health impacts are acute respiratory infection (ARI), including asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders.

2. Impact on Crops/Plants

Plants whish grows in areas with high levels of air pollution can be disrupted and disease-prone, such as chlorosis, necrosis, and dark spots. Particulates deposited on the surface of plants can inhibit photosynthesis; destroy Aesthetics, Disrupt comfort, Destroy buildings, offices, and housing.

3. Acid rain

Normal rainwater PH is 5.6 due to the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere. Air pollutants such as SO2 and NO2 react with rainwater to form acid and lower rainwater pH. The impact of this acid rain include:

  • Affect surface water quality
  • Damaging crops
  • Dissolve heavy metals found in the soil, affecting groundwater and surface water quality

4. Damage to the ozone layer

The ozone layer in the stratosphere (20-35 km altitude) is a natural protector of the earth that serves to filter out the ultra violet B radiation from the sun. The formation and decomposition of ozone molecules (O3) occurs naturally in the stratosphere.

5. Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is caused by the presence of CO2, CFC, methane, ozone, and N2O in our air layer. These substances that exist in the air layer is actually advantageous. It has the purpose to block the reflection of heat from the earth into space because the heat is blocked so the air in the earth afternoon is not too hot and the night is not too cold. The rising earth temperature is what is called the global warming phenomenon The impact of global warming is:

  • Polar ice melt
  • Rising sea levels
  • Regional and global climate change
  • Changes in the life cycle of flora and fauna

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How to reduce air pollution

We can still do something to stop harmful chemicals in air pollution, here are:

  1. Use environmentally friendly fuel for our vehicles
  2. Reduce vehicle consumption
  3. Reducing the use of plastic and household waste generated by the manufacture of plastic packaging will release harmful materials emissions into the atmosphere. Use the 3R principle of reduce, reuse and recycle.
  4. If you want to go for a relatively close trip, use the bike
  5. Do tree planting movements to increase oxygen production
  6. Make sure the air conditioner is working efficiently

So, there are all the things you should know about the air pollution. It is indeed a very dangerous yet common phenomenon that occurs almost in our everyday life. I hope we can be more responsible towards our earth after knowing about Air pollution and all of its harmful chemicals.

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