Air Pollution and its effects

The effects of natural disasters on air pollution


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia via Creative Commons

Bryce Johnson, Author

It is not often that the topic of pollution comes up, but when it does, a common thought is pollution from factories. Although this is a major contribution to air pollution, it is not the only one. Volcanoes, wildfires, and biological decay are three of the most common natural air pollutants on Earth. According to “Other natural sources include decomposition, ocean release, and respiration.” These natural sources release large amounts of sulfur, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrochloric acid into the air, which is a major chemical that adds to air pollution. Some of these chemicals are greenhouse gases, which are harmful gases that trap heat in earth’s atmosphere. These greenhouse gases can be released with the product of natural disasters such as ash from volcanic eruptions and smoke from wildfires. There have been many natural disasters in 2017, including the California wildfires and the Bali volcano eruption, that have contributed to air pollution.

The California wildfires and the Bali volcano eruption have contributed to air pollution significantly. California cities have taken eight of the twenty-five spots on the American Lung Associations People at Risk report. Air quality expert Sean Raffuse says in an interview with CNN, “The wildfires blazing across Northern California this week produced the same amount of air pollution as vehicles did in the state in one year.”  

Carbon dioxide composes seventy-two percent of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, which is the main byproduct in wildfires. Along with that, carbon dioxide has the potential to cause acid rain. Acid rain, rain that has lower pH level than normal, can kill small plants and shrubs. Carbon dioxide has many effects on the environment and it also produces it as a byproduct of many natural processes.

Although there is a mass production of carbon dioxide on Earth, there is a natural processes that removes some of that carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is required in photosynthesis, plants food making process. The plant takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen to replace the carbon dioxide that they took. Ashleigh Kreamer, a freshman at Battlefield high school, says “I am disgusted by the thought of all the harmful chemicals being added to our atmosphere.”

There are many natural sources of air pollution, and they are all contributing as much as humans are to this problem. There are some natural resolutions that can help us reduce the amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere. This is not going to help this problem enough, if the human population wants to help, they need to stop. Stop producing as many chemicals as byproducts.