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Major Air Pollution Types and Causes

Updated on May 22, 2014

Air pollution was introduced by force in this country and across the world, during the industrial revolution, as fossil fuels like coal are burned to produce heat and energy. Air pollution has two major causes; burning of fossil fuels and vehicular emissions. The impact is felt in the environment and humans and can be intensified by other controlling variables.

Industrial smog is a grayish haze mixture of smoke and fog, thus claiming the name smog. The composition of this type of pollution is mainly carbon dioxide and coal particulates. Concentrations of coal powered industrial parks create this type of air pollution. To combat this type of pollution, cleaner energy must be used. This can be achieved by legislature making coal more expensive to use and not such a cheap alternative.

Photochemical smog is composed of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds emitted from vehicles and other forms of transportation. This brownish fog can be found in hotter climates earlier in the morning proceeding rush hour traffic on highly congested road ways in higher populated areas. Car pooling, taking public transportation, as well as walking or biking to your destinations cold be a way to lessen this type of air pollution.

Certain combined elements to the air pollution equation can actually intensify the harmful effects. When warm air is trapped between two layers of cooler air, a situation called temperature inversion can occur. The inversion if able to continue over time, can cause the air pollution level to get dangerously high and human impact occurs. People have complained of headaches, nausea and eye and throat irritants. Both type of air pollution can also cause increased pre existing conditions symptoms. (Wright and Boorse, 2011)

When both industrial smog and photochemical smog are present in the same area simultaneously, an atmospheric brown smog can occur. Atmospheric brown cloud can cause heightened problems like inversion, however new hazards can occur under these conditions. Acid rain is a phenomenon that can accompany this mix, as well as reduction in visibility. Lowered rainfall can lead to decreased crop yields. Due to the aerosol particles in the air, reduction of snow reflection and solar heating can also occur.

Great Air Pollution Documentary


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    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      Maybe we should have another industrial revolution, and find clever ways to get our work done without making such a mess.

    • DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

      Felix J Hernandez 5 years ago from All over the USA

      Scary photo you have there from Messed up thing is that is doesn't have to be like that but it's getting there fast.