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Life without clean air

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Let’s start out with, what is air pollution. Well basically air pollution is the introduction into the atmosphere of chemicals, particulates, or biological materials that cause discomfort, disease, or death to humans, damage other living organisms such as food crops, or damage the natural environment or built environment.The atmosphere is a complex dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems.

Air pollution has been a ‘slow-killing’ disaster to us. Back in the old days air pollution seems nothing much like a huge treat to us now. HOWEVER, in this modernized era, the air is much polluted. We always blame on others like ‘its natural’ or some don’t even give a damn about it. This had made the air pollution worse than ever. We are basically dying under the wrath of air pollution and still some stubborn people refuse to help it.

Pollutants are the things that caused air pollution. A substance in the air that can be adverse to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant. Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. In addition, they may be natural or man-made. The source of air pollutant can also be separated into two different categories; primary pollutant and secondary pollutant. Primary pollutants are produced mostly by human daily activities which include Sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, CFC and etc. Secondary pollutant forms in the atmosphere through chemical and photochemical reactions from the primary pollutants. Such examples are nitrogen dioxide, sulphuric acid and ozone.

Imagine a life without clean air. How would humans even live under these situations? Maybe in 30 years’ time, all humans have to live underground because the air is too polluted. A lot of things especially mishaps will happen if the air is polluted. For example, haze. Haze is where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. When haze occurs, visibility will drop tremendously. As the visibility drop, motorist will not be able to see clearly causing road accident and in severe cases death. Another example is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is released when incomplete combustion occurs. Carbon monoxide is harmful as once it enters our body; it will fight with the haemoglobin (a type of metalloprotien that is used to transfer oxygen throughout the body). As less oxygen is transferred throughout our body, we will fell dizzy and many of our cells will die. If too much Carbon monoxide is inhaled, death may occur.

Next, polluted air is more acidic and warmer. This may cause acid rain and global warming. As the air is more acidic, more cases of skin, eye and respiratory diseases will occur. Chlorofluorocarbon or CFC is ‘well known’ for depleting the ozone layer. When CFC rises up to the sky, it will change to chlorine radical that will destroy the ozone layer thus making it into oxygen molecule. Well, we are still lucky because the oxygen molecule will change back into the ozone. However, the rate of destruction is more than the rate of restoration. As the ozone layer is depleted, Ultraviolet (UV) light is able to pass through. Once UV light is contacted with our skin there is a risk for us getting skin cancer. Another cause is eye cataracts where cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. It is the most common cause of blindness and is conventionally treated with surgery.

Furthermore, polluted air may cause crops to produce fewer yields for they are exposed to dust and acid rain. Acid rains occur when the air is filled with acidic substance such as sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide will combine with the rain water and produce acid rain. Other than decreasing the yield, acid rain will also corrode a building and make metal rust faster. This will cause precious buildings like the famous Kota A’ Famosa in Malacca to corrode faster.

As now you know the adverse effect of air pollution and how they affect us, it’s time to talk about the way to curb this problem. One of the methods to do it is to plant more trees. Trees are very crucial to the environment because without trees, everything will be dead. Via photosynthesis (a process in plants where ‘food’ is produced) plants will absorb in carbon dioxide which is an air pollutant and transform it into oxygen. As more trees are planted, more carbon dioxide will be absorbed. Carbon dioxide is a type of greenhouse gas where they literally trap heat from escaping to the space. Less carbon dioxide, the Earth will get cooler and the poles will not melt (they melt because of global warming). Recently, the government in the United States of America (USA) organised a campaign named ‘plant a tree a day’. Furthermore, the government should carry out reforestation to balance the number of tree being cut down and the number of trees being planted. Well as more trees are planted, we get to enjoy a better, colder and fresher environment.

Next, we can also save the environment by ensuring our motor vehicles such as motorbikes and cars are in good condition. Why? Simple for if the engine of a motor vehicle is not properly maintained, it will most likely not be able to completely burn the petroleum. That process of not burning completely is called incomplete combustion. Incomplete combustion will produce carbon monoxide which is a very dangerous and harmful gas which can lead to death.

After that, another mean of keeping the air clean is by fixing catalytic converters on the exhaust of motor vehicles. Catalytic converters are a type of machine that will convert harmful gases like carbon monoxide into something less harmful like nitrogen, carbon dioxide or water. Catalytic converters should be enforced and the government should do something like distributing free catalytic converters to everyone. It will cause a bomb but hey for the sake of saving the world that we cared so much, why not? We should also use ozone-friendly gas such as high-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) in air conditioners and aerosol cans. CFC is a ‘little monster’ that poses a threat to our environment.
We can also save the environment by ensuring the management of the factories follow the law that is set for them. Nowadays, most factory owners only care about profits and always finding a way, by hook or by crook, to save money without even thinking twice of others especially the environment. Well it cost money to buy a filter to put it at the chimney and some selfish owners refuse to buy them for filters are like useless to them although it can cause less air pollution.

Well there are also more methods to keep the air clean and healthy. First, we by any chances at all MUST NOT smoke. Smoking is bad as it contains more than 4000 types of chemicals. The common ones are nicotine, Tabaco tar and carbon monoxide. These chemicals will kill the smoker faster. As people breathe in the smoke released by the smoker, they too will get the bad effects like lung cancer. Therefore, smoking is considered an air pollutant. Next, do not carry out open burning. Open burning will release harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Another way to keep the air clean is by saving energy such as gas and electricity. To generate electricity, generators like a nuclear plant will produce a lot of smoke to get the energy. The smoke is harmful. So the less energy used, the less smoke is released.

Next, it’s a good habit to just walk to nearby places instead of traveling by car or motorbikes. Motor vehicles will release harmful gases, therefore if it’s just a nearby place like a sundry-shop or ‘mamak’. It’s not wrong plus if you barely have time to exercise, you can use this golden opportunity to exercise. So starting from this second, I want you to walk to nearby places and try to minimise the usage of motor vehicles. Another mean of minimising the usage of motor vehicles is by carpooling or using public transport such as bus. Carpooling means sharing the same car to go to a certain destination. By using public transport, we get to decrease the number of cars on the road. With this method, traffic jam will rarely happen and less amount of carbon monoxide is released thus less polluting the air.
To put it in a nutshell, air pollution is a major problem to us but with everyone’s cooperation we are able to change it. Remember the lives of the future generation lies on our hand. If we choose to ignore it, soon human will face their punishment. Therefore, try to do something to save the nature and encourage others to do so too.

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