What is air pollution?
Air pollution has a harmful effect on human health and the living environment. It is not a problem that we see, but the consequences for our health are severe. The continuously worsened air quality status can lead to consequences such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, diseases related to the nervous and reproductive systems. Scientific analyses show that air pollution affects literally every human body organ. In Europe, emissions of many air pollutants have fallen significantly in recent years, leading to improved air quality throughout the region. However, concentrations of air pollutants are still too high, and air quality problems remain. A significant part of Europe’s population lives in urban areas, especially in big cities, where the air quality standards on ozone pollution, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, which pose serious health risks, are exceeded: Air pollution is a local, European and intercontinental problem. Air pollutants released in one country can be transported into the atmosphere and degrade air quality elsewhere.
What causes air pollution?
- There are various sources of air pollution, both anthropogenic (human-made) and natural sources.
- Combustion of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transport, industry and households.
- In addition to air pollution and irreparable damage to the environment (water pollution and destruction of fertile lands) and human health, coal burning also causes climate change.
- Coal-fired power plants are a source of 1/3 of the world’s carbon dioxide.
- Industrial processes and use of solvents.
- Waste treatment.
- Volcanic eruptions, wind dust, sea salt splashes and emissions of volatile organic compounds from plants are examples of sources of natural emissions.