Causes and Effects of Toxic Smog

Smog is mainly originated from the merging of two words; smoke and fog. Smog is also described as the type of fog, which has smoke in it. Smog is a yellowish or blackish fog formed primarily due to a mixture of pollutants in the atmosphere that consists of fine particles and ground-level ozone. Toxic smog occurs largely because of air pollution, which can also be defined as a mixture of various gases with dust. It makes breathing a difficult process for human beings.

It happens when fumes, vehicular and industrial emissions, and particulates like nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds react to form ground-level ozone when acted upon the sun’s ultraviolet light. Dense urban areas see more smog because of huge traffic, industries, and combustion of fuel. Toxic smog has severe negative effects on human, plants, and animals.

Causes of Toxic Smog

causes of smog

Air pollutants from various sources such as industries, consumer products, or vehicles, which are the typical factors of smog. More than 50% of smog is formed insignificance of vehicular emissions. Smog is of two types: photochemical smog that is commonly formed in urban areas, which originates from elevated levels of hydrocarbon vapors and nitrogen oxides in exposure to sunlight, and sulfur smog that is formed when there is an increased level of sulfur oxides in the atmosphere. Below are the primary causes of Smog.


Use of coal as fuel in heating or in power-producing plants discharges high concentrations of sulfur oxides in the atmosphere. The effects are worsened by high levels of suspended particulate matter in the air and dampness. Burning coal also generates significant amounts of smoke which lead to smoggy environments. Coal induced toxic smog has been widely experienced in London up to the middle ages of the 20th century. In China, Harbin, coal-induced smog contributed to the closure of roads, schools, and airport in the autumn of 2013.

Vehicular and Industrial Emissions

Vehicular emissions originate from fossil fuel combustion in cars, trucks, buses, and motorbikes. Industries equally emit these gaseous emissions and fumes, which leads to smog formation and one of the primary causes of deaths. Most of the toxic smog formed are a result of traffic emissions. The primary sources are oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, fumes.

Natural Causes

Smog can also occur due to natural causes like a volcanic eruption and some specific plant life effects. Volcanic eruption releases high concentrations of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter in the air, which are the two primary constituents for smog formation.

Effects of Smog

effects of smog

Smog is injurious and it is evident from the components that form it. It is harmful to humans, animals, and plants as well. Thus toxic smog results in a low production of the natural element vitamin D, which is leading to cases of rickets among people. Smog can be responsible for any disease from negligible pains to deadly pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer. Smog is also known for causing irritation in the eye and inflammation in the tissues of lungs; giving rise to pain in the chest. Other issues such as cold and pneumonia are also related to smog.

Minor exposure to smog can lead to asthma attacks and people suffering from asthma problems must avoid such exposure. Smog also causes premature deaths and affects densely populated areas. The most affected people include elderly folks, kids and those with cardiac and respiratory complications. The ground level ozone present in the smog also prevents plant growth and causes immense damage to crops and forests. Crops, vegetables like soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, peanuts, and cotton are prone to infection when they are exposed to smog.


Smog is a devastating problem especially due to industrialization as the hazardous chemicals involved in smog formation are highly volatile. So how should one fight with the powerful impact of smog? It can be reduced by implementing modifications in your lifestyle, decreasing the consumption of fuels and by replacing them with alternate sources of fuel, which will at least reduce toxic emissions from vehicles.

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