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Air Pollution


A i r p o l lution is prematurely killing 13,000 people a year in Britain compared with f e w e r t h a n 2 , 0 0 0 deaths a year from road accidents, s t u d y Insti-

a major from the Massachusetts tute of Technology has concluded. Of these, cars and lorries are thought to be responsible for 7,000 deaths, aviation almost 2,000, power plants 1,700 with the rest coming from shipping, factories and domestic emissions. The report calculated that about 60% of the polluted air breathed by Britons comes from domestic sources, the rest coming from air crossing the channel from mainland Europe. The researchers estimated for the first time that air polluted outside Britain may kill 6,000 people a year prematurely, but dirty British air drifting the other way is killing 3,100 people a year in mainland Europe.


Car Pollution Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant that is warming Earth. Though living things emit carbon dioxide when they breathe, carbon dioxide is widely considered to be a pollutant when associated with cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas.

In the past 150 years, such activities have pumped enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise its levels higher than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years. On a larger scale, governments are taking measures to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


Road pollution is more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents. The combustion exhausts across the UK cause nearly 5,000 premature deaths each year. In 2010, there were 1,850 deaths due to road accidents. The latest study adds to the debate by breaking down mortality rates according to sector - transport, energy and industry. ‘‘Cars and lorries emit right by where people live and work and so have a greater impact,” explains lead author Steven Barrett. The propensity for air pollution to straddle boundaries has political, as well as medical, implications. The UK is currently facing the threat of prosecution by the European Union for serial violations of air-quality standards. Practical measures include the reduction of black carbon emitted in car exhausts - especially from older cars that fail to burn their fuel completely. The analysis identifies key improvements that would help reduce the health burden of air pollution.


Road transport accounts for 22% of total UK emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the major contributor to climate change. The EU has agreements with motor manufacturers that aim to reduce average CO2 emissions from new cars. Colour-coded labels, similar to those used on washing machines and fridges, are now displayed in car showrooms showing how much CO2 new models emit per kilometre. However, as traffic levels are predicted to increase, road transport will continue to be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.


Air pollution does not only damage the air; it also damages environments on Earth’s surface and their inhabitants. Sometimes it is the pollutants themselves that cause damage. Then small levels of environmental pollution create discomfort for many animals while on the other hand more excessive pollution leads to diseases and deaths of animals. The toxins released into the air and water through precipitation can accumulate in the tissues of animals lower down the food chain. By reducing all forms of environmental pollution on our planet we could save millions of animals. Add to this climate change and deforestation and you’ll soon realize why so many animals are finding it very hard to survive.


Air Pollution 01  

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