Air Pollution 101 | National Geographic

- (piano music)

- [Women Speaker] Air pollution consists of chemicals

or particles in the atmosphere, that pose serious

health and environmental threats.

But what causes air pollution?

And what does it mean for our planet?

Some air pollution comes from natural sources,

like volcanic eruptions, wild fires, or allergens.

But most air pollution results from human activities.

Such as energy used in agriculture.

There are different types of human-made air pollution.

When we burn fossil fuels to produce energy they release

greenhouse gasses into the air.

This emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane,

nitrous oxide and fluorinated gasses trap heat

from the sun in earth's atmosphere.

Leading to a rise in global temperatures.

This creates a cycle where air pollution

contributes to climate change.

And climate change creates higher temperatures.

In turn, higher temperatures intensifies

some types of air pollution.

For example, climate change increases smog,

because it forms in the presence of high heat

and increased levels of ultraviolet radiation.

More frequent extreme weather, such as flooding,

contributes to damp conditions and therefore a rise in mold.

Warmer weather also leads to longer pollen seasons,

and therefore more pollen production.

Smog, is a type of air pollution, that reduces visibility

and has serious health effects.

Smog can be divided into two categories;

sulfurous and photochemical.

Sulfurous smog is made up of chemical

compounds called sulfur oxides.

It occurs when burning sulfur baring fossil

fuels, such as coal.

Photochemical smog, also called ground level ozone,

is a result of the reaction between sunlight,

and nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds.

Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust,

coal power plants, and factory emissions.

Volatile organic compounds are released from

gasoline, paints, and many cleaning solvents.

Smog not only creates a brown haze that reduces visibility,

but also harms plants, irritates

the eyes, and causes respiratory distress.

Another category of air pollution is toxic pollutants.

These are chemicals such as mercury, lead, dioxins,

and benzine that are released during gas or coal combustion,

waste incineration, or burning of gasoline.

In addition to adverse environmental effects,

toxic air pollution can cause serious health problems.

Such as cancer, reproductive complications,

and birth defects.

While air pollution has many consequences

for our planet, there are solutions.

We can limit toxic pollutes, smog and greenhouse gases,

by decreasing the use of fossil fuels.

Such as in transportation, manufacturing,

and electricity generation.

Reducing air pollution, not only contributes to a cleaner

environment, and better human health, but can also slow the

rate of global warming.

(chime music)