Smog – a combination of the words, smoke, and fog- is a deadly form of air pollution. The term was first used by H.A. Des Voeux in 1905 to describe the atmospheric conditions in Britain as a result of heavy industrialization. When atmospheric pollutants and gases released from the burning of fossil fuels react with sunlight and ozone, it causes smog. Not just outdoor pollution but also indoor pollution adds up to the pollutants in the atmosphere. Cooking fuels combustion produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, gases released from stoves, water heaters, CFCs from refrigerators and air conditioners lead to high levels of pollutants in the air. Not only there is a need to control outdoor pollution but its high time we get aware of the damaging effects of indoor air pollution. Read on to find out more about the harmful effects of smog on your health.
Causes of Smog
Here are some of the primary causes of smog.
Vehicular and Industrial Emission
The primary contributor to the formation of smog like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, Sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds, and hydrocarbons. The harmful chemicals are released from the combustion of fossil fuels in vehicles and industries. These fumes and gases released from industries into the atmosphere add to smog formation.
Volcanic eruptions release a high concentration of Sulphur dioxide and particulate matter into the atmosphere.
Burning of coal in power plants and using it as a fuel for cooking and heating releases a high amount of Sulphur oxide and smoke, which is a contributor in the process of formation of smog.
Effects of Smog
- Health problems – As the air quality worsens, it leads to various respiratory diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis. High levels of ozone also aggravate sneezing, coughing and eye irritation.
- Infant health problems- Exposure to smog causes adverse effects on pregnancy and leads to premature birth, low birth weight, the weak immune system of child and other respiratory diseases.
- Road Accidents – Smog reduces natural visibility and irritates the eyes, which makes it difficult to see signals and drive.
- Harms Plants – Smog can restrict plant growth and cause damage to forests and crops.
- Premature Deaths- Exposure to smog leads to premature death as it can lead to diseases like cancer. Smog particles consist of cancer-causing carcinogens.
Effects of Smog on Indoor Air Quality
Smog can also have an impact on indoor air quality. The outdoor pollutants infiltrate the indoor air in some ways that are not very obvious. Cracked walls, doors, window sealants, open windows, and doors are some of the most common ways through which outdoor air pollution affects indoor air quality. Deteriorating air quality has severe health repercussions such as respiratory diseases, cancer, poor pet health and a host of other health issues. This also leads to increased levels of dust in the house which is again damaging our health.
Solutions to Smog Pollution
- Reduce vehicular emissions by opting for public transports over personal vehicles. Use vehicles which run on Compress Natural Gas to reduce the emission of harmful gases and smoke.
- Industries need to focus more on using renewable sources of energy for manufacturing products and should filter the smoke and fumes released before releasing it into the atmosphere.
- Environmentally friendly products should be used more often to avoid the use of chemical paints, plastics, sprays which release volatile organic compounds.
- Wear masks when traveling outside
- Install HEPA air purifiers in homes, offices, and cars to keep the indoor air clean.
The indiscriminate use of resources has caused some irreversible damage to the environment. Taking action and protecting the environment from a disaster that human-led development and modernization is the only way to deal with the problem. Being aware and educating others about smog and its effects is very important to bring a positive change. Smog is a small part of the bigger issue of environmental pollution but if we can prevent it, we will take further steps ahead in the journey to protect and save the planet.