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Air pollution in megacities is a major environmental hazard particularly in the developing countries around the globe. Statistics has shown that the greatest challenge facing the society in the 21st century is discovering practical ways of economic development in megacities without destroying the environment. In the United States, a megacity is defined as a metropolitan area that has a population of more than 10 million people. According to Zhang et al (2015), air pollution refers to the introduction or presence of harmful substances that have poisonous effects on the air. Therefore, any chemical or biological alteration in the atmospheric air is termed as pollution. Air pollution is classified into two categories that are invisible and visible air pollution. This essay seeks to discuss air pollution in megacities, its causes, effects, and the possible solutions that can help in mitigating the issue.
Causes of Air Pollution
There are various causes of air pollution. One of them is transportation emissions that come from airplanes, jeeps, trains, trucks, and cars. Vehicles use fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal, and their combustion results in the emission of sulfur dioxide that causes an immense pollution. Besides, carbon monoxide that is caused by incomplete or improper combustion of these fossil fuels also leads to air pollution. Nitrogen oxide that is both a natural and transportation emission also leads to air pollution (Haq et al., 2003).
Moreover, emissions from factories, power plants, and industries also cause air pollution. Statics has proved that manufacturing industries emit large amounts of organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and other chemicals into the air thus depleting its quality. Manufacturing industries are found at every corner of megacities thus greatly affecting the quality of their air. Besides, petroleum refineries release hydrocarbons and other chemicals that pollute the air.
Additionally, particulate matter is another pollutan that affects air quality in megacities especially in the Asian megacities. Particulates such as sulfur dioxide, some natural gases, and ammonia are known for the increasing mortality rates in these cities. Most of these particulates come from agricultural activities that make use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers.
Consequently, mining operations also release chemicals that cause massive air pollution. Mining refers to a process where some minerals are extracted from the earth through the use of large equipment. This process emits chemicals and dust that are responsible for the deteriorating health conditions of people living around. Further, painting supplies and household cleaning products emit toxic chemicals that lead to indoor pollution. For instance, when people paint their walls, they create smells that make it impossible for someone to breathe.
Effects of Air Pollution
Air pollution has various effects particularly on the human health. Air pollution is known to trigger various respiratory and heart conditions. Besides, some of the particles that cause air pollution also lead to cancer and deterred growth. Statics has proved that children who are exposed to various air pollutants suffer from asthma and pneumonia (World Health Organization & United Nations Environment Programme, 1992).
Additionally, air pollution also leads to climatic change. For instance, it causes global warming through increasing temperatures worldwide. These temperatures lead to the melting of ice and icebergs thus displacing some habitat that live in the water. Besides, harmful gases such as sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxides combine with rain-water causing acid rain. Acid rain causes great damage to plants, animals, and human beings. Further, Dang & Unger (2015) elucidate that air pollution leads to the depletion of the ozone layer that protects humans from the ultraviolet rays. Hydro chlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere affect the ozone layer that allows harmful rays to reach the earth causing eye and skin problems among people.
Moreover, air pollution also has adverse effects on the wildlife. Toxic chemicals in the air force species to change their habitat. For instance, when nitrogen combines with water, it leads to eutrophication. This is a condition that makes the sea surface turn into algae thus endangering the lives of the sea animals.
Some of the possible solutions to air pollution in megacities include the use of public transportation. People should be encouraged to use public modes of transport so as to reduce emissions that are caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Besides, people should be encouraged to use carpooling where people should join and use less cars to drive so as to save energy and reduce transportation emissions.
Moreover, the effective use of renewable sources such as geothermal, solar, and wind should be considered. These are normally termed as clean energy since they do not cause pollution. The government should, therefore, provide grants to all consumers who are interested in installing solar panels so as to curb the issue of pollution. Besides, individuals should be encouraged to follow the concept of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Additionally, people should be advised to use energy efficient devices such as cars. For example, CFL lights are known to use less electricity when compared to their counterparts. Thus, the government must encourage the use of such devices since they reduce air pollution. Besides, the price of the energy efficient cars should be reduced so that many people can afford them.
In conclusion, air pollution in megacities is one of the larger reflections of man’s follies. Therefore, there is a great need to employ control techniques in most megacities around the globe so as to improve the air quality and protect public health. Since most of the developing countries are becoming industrialized, there is a likelihood of the increased emissions of air pollutants in the megacities of the developing countries.