Air is one of the abiotic factors that affect the life of the biotic components (living things). Air contains compounds in the form of gases, including a gas that is essential for life, namely oxygen. The earth’s atmosphere contains about 20% of the oxygen needed by all living things in it.
Oxygen plays a role in the combustion of carbohydrate compounds in the body of organisms through respiration. The combustion reaction does not only occur in the body, but we also often do it, such as burning garbage or others.
The by-products of combustion are carbon compounds (CO2 and CO) which are discharged into the air. With the increase in the population of living things, the combustion process will also increase. Thus, the concentration of carbon compounds in the air increases. Carbon dioxide is very important for the process of making food (photosynthesis) for plants. Thus, the increase in carbon compounds in the air can be overcome. However, the increase in the human population causes the need for housing to increase.
This leads to the clearing of fields or forests to fulfill this demand for shelter. Not to mention the case of illegal logging (illegal logging) which reduces the plant population. Even though the results of the formation of food through photosynthesis produce oxygen which is needed by living things. Thus, cases of air pollution began to occur.
Air pollution is defined as a condition in which the air contains chemical compounds or physical or biological substances that have a negative impact on human, animal, or plant health, as well as damage natural beauty and comfort, or damage tool items (property).
Air Pollution Factors and Impacts
1. Kinds of Air Pollution
a. Primary Air Pollution
This air pollution is caused directly by pollutant sources, for example, an increase in carbon dioxide levels caused by combustion activities by humans.
b. Secondary Air Pollution
In contrast to primary air pollution, secondary air pollution occurs due to reactions between primary air pollutants that occur in the atmosphere. For example, the formation of ozone occurs from the chemical reaction of oxygen-containing particles in the air.
2. Factors that cause air pollution
Some activities both from nature and humans produce gaseous compounds that make air polluted. The following are the causes of air pollution.
a. Nature Activities
Natural activities can cause air pollution in the atmosphere. Manure produced by livestock contains methane compounds which can increase the earth’s temperature and consequently global warming. A similar process occurs in the nitrogen cycle in the atmosphere.
In addition, natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions can produce volcanic ash that pollutes the surrounding air which is harmful to human and plant health. Forest fires that occur will produce large amounts of carbon dioxide which can pollute the air and be harmful to animal and human health.
b. Human activity
Human activities are now increasingly out of control, industrial and technological progress brings negative sides to the environment. Why? Because it was not handled properly. The following is pollution caused by human activities.
- Burning garbage.
- Industrial fumes.
- Vehicle fumes.
- Cigarette smoke.
- Waste chemicals such as CFCs, and others.
3. Impact of Air Pollution
Air pollution causes harm to many organisms that inhabit the earth. The impacts of air pollution include, among others, health, plants, the greenhouse effect, and the damage to the ozone layer.
It is proven that decreased air quality due to pollution causes various diseases. ARI (respiratory infection) is one of them. The respiratory tract is the gate for the entry of air into the body. Dirty air carries compounds that are not good for health.
Of course, the deposition of dissolved metal in the air can settle in the lungs and can cause irritation. A more serious consequence of air pollution is emphysema, a symptom of difficulty in transporting oxygen. Too much carbon monoxide in the air (more than oxygen) can inhibit the binding of oxygen in the body. Therefore the body will be deprived of oxygen, resulting in shortness of breath, dizziness, and death if not handled properly.
b. For Plants
Volcanic ash from volcanic eruptions polluted the air and triggered acid rain. Acid rain contains sulfur compounds that are acidic. These acidic conditions can kill local plants. Therefore we often encounter so many plants and trees damaged by acid rain or volcanic ash.
c. Greenhouse effect
High concentrations of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere will trigger the greenhouse effect, which is an increase in the earth’s temperature. CO and CO2 will form a kind of layer that will hold the earth’s heat out so that the heat generated by the earth will be confined in a greenhouse.
d. Damage to the Ozone Layer
CFCs are compounds that are often used in refrigeration products (freezers, air conditioners) and aerosols. When CFC decomposes in the atmosphere, it triggers a reaction with ozone-making oxygen. Thus, the ozone will break down causing the ozone layer to perforate.
Even though the ozone layer functions as a protector of the Earth from the heat emitted by the Sun. UV rays produced by the Sun can trigger cancer, with the presence of ozone, the entry of UV rays will be suppressed so that the impact is less. Unfortunately, the current global warming is partly due to the destruction of the ozone layer. At this time CFCs for refrigeration and aerosols have been replaced with other environmentally friendly materials.