The term ‘smog’ is a combination of two words- ‘smoke’ and ‘fog’. Smog is a yellowish or blackish fog formed primarily by a mixture of pollutants such as fine particles and ground-level ozone. Toxic smog, which occurs because of air pollution, has a mixture of various gases with dust. It makes breathing a difficult process for human beings.
Smog results from a mixture of gases with dust and water vapor. 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. Read on to find out more about the causes and effects of toxic smog.
Table of Contents
Causes of Toxic Smog
Burning fuels release atmospheric pollutants and gases into the environment, which form smog. Smog is caused as a result of heavy traffic, high temperatures, calm winds, and sunshine are the main factors that cause smog. During winter when the speed of the wind is low, smoke and fog become stagnant at a place and result in smog. This increases pollution levels at ground level, hampers visibility and disturbs the environment. Below are the primary causes of smog.
Use of coal as fuel in heating or power-producing plants discharge high concentrations of sulphur 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.
Smog can also occur due to natural causes like a volcanic eruption and some specific plant life effects. Volcanic eruption releases high concentrations of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter in the air, which are the two primary constituents for smog formation.
Effects of Smog
Smog is injurious and it is evident from the components that form it. Toxic smog results in a low production of vitamin D, which causes rickets among people. Smog is also responsible for any disease from negligible pains to deadly pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer. The most common effects of smog are mentioned below:
Coughing and Irritation in Eyes, Chest and Throat
Smog causes irritation in the eye and inflammation in the tissues of the lungs. A high level of ozone present in smog affects the respiratory systems causing sneezing and wheezing. Generally, the effects last for few days only, but pollutant present in smog continues to damage your lung even the after the effects are gone.
Ozone is one of the most common air pollutants found in smog that aggravates asthma and it can even lead to lung damage. Minor exposure to smog trigger asthma attacks and people suffering from asthma problems must avoid such exposure.
Smog damages the linings of the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia, bronchitis emphysema are the most common health issues are caused by smog. The most affected people include elderly people, kids and people with cardiac and respiratory complications.
Continuous exposure to smog increases the chances of premature deaths. More than 80% of urban areas are exposed to air pollution where the WHO limit exceeds. According to WHO, the combined effects of indoor air pollution and household pollution cause 7 million premature deaths every year.
How can you protect yourself from smog?
Smog is a devastating problem, especially due to industrialization as the hazardous chemicals involved in smog formation are highly volatile. So, how do you fight the powerful impact of smog? Implementing some modifications in your lifestyle, decreasing the consumption of fuels, will help in protecting smog to a great extent. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to protect yourself from smog:
- Limit outdoor activities
- If you have asthma, always carry an inhaler with you
- Make your home clean and tidy
- Avoid smoking inside
- Ventilate your home
- Do not burn wood or trash
- Stay hydrated and drink herbal tea
- Always check air quality inside your home
- Do not exercise in a smoggy environment
- Install an air purifier
The Bottom Line
Air pollution is serious health hazardous and has an impact on both humans and the environment. The ground level ozone present in the smog also prevents plant growth and causes immense damage to crop and forests. You can protect your home from the harmful consequences of poor air quality by installing a HEPA air purifier.