What Air Pollutants Do to a City

How the Human Race Can Fix It

Air pollution does a lot of harm to city infrastructure all across the United States. Air pollution exists in an invisible state that not everybody can see. But it certainly affects your breathing. According to epa.gov, there are six common types of air pollutants. Cars are only one source of pollutant emissions along with planes, ferries, and trains. It is a little-known fact that death can be caused by air pollutants known as “fine particle matter (PM22.5)” which can cause premature death and harmful effects on the cardiovascular system” as well as other systems such as inflicting asthma on the respiratory system.

Substances like ozone can increase the frequency of asthma attacks. Bad ozone is caused by “chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and “volatile organic compounds, ” (VOC) which changes chemical composition in the presence of sunlight. Ozone can make illnesses like asthma worsen, which is already brought on by pollution anyway. (Source). There are chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, both of which cause asthma to increase in symptoms, this aggravates the condition requiring using the inhaler more often.

Lead cannot only infect the water supply, it can also be in the air. Lead causes neurological problems in children, such as behavioral problems, learning problems and lowering IQ points. Lead can cause high blood pressure and heart disease in adults. The Clean Air Act was put in place to make sure that air gets better, not worse. Specific legislation has a history of working on pollution levels, which prevents cardiovascular illness or respiratory illnesses from poisonous air. The Clean Air Act has managed to reduce mercury emissions by 45%. Also, the lead content in gasoline has been cut by 92% since 1980 although more work needs to be done to reduce fossil fuel use altogether. (Source)

The Clean Air Act also creates jobs as well as having the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that global warming causes emissions. Global warming is connected with heat waves, increase in ground-level ozone pollution, and extreme weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. In California, we have spare the air days where it is advised to commute instead of drive, just to get people into the habit of commuting by bus, train, or light rail instead of the usual drive. Driving causes gasoline emissions.


These are days where people are advised to walk or ride their bike. Taking the bus is also suggested. Skipping a trip or linking your errands is also advised. In the Bay Area, there are programs at companies with 50 or more employees working full-time to get commuter benefits. There is a program website where a company can register.

Because of population density, cities deal with more pollutants than rural areas but also, cities have more opportunities available. Poor air quality can have lasting effects on both physical and mental health. Air pollution irritates eyes, nose, and throat along with causing shortness of breath. Soot is another component of air pollution in the Bay Area. Wood smoke causes PM pollution from firewood or burning logs from woodstoves. Back to ozone, another source of pollution that can irritate your lungs, ozone can be dangerous to your health. Air pollution, in general, is a problem that could be taken care of if we managed to not use fossil fuels at all. Oil is the biggest problem on the planet right now because we have to think about how we pollute our environment daily with whatever.

Works Cited

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Air Pollution: Current and Future Challenges

Ozone Pollution

Spare the Air

The Clean Air Act

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What Air Pollutants Do to a City
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