The basic types and sources of airborne pollutants are briefly discussed. This is followed by analysis of the direct effects (primarily health-related) of air pollution on human beings and discussion of indirect effects--including destruction of the ozone layer, and the many effects of global warming. Responses to air pollution are analyzed in terms of the slow development of regulation. The final section discusses future approaches to the air pollution problem.
Air pollution is a major threat to humanity. Not only does it directly threaten individual health and well-being, it also threatens the rest of the environment on which humanity depends for its existence. The threat is universal and the effects of air pollution range from increased cases of various diseases to global warming. Since the introduction of the extensive use of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, the air pollution problem has increased steadily. Other types of industrial emissions, enormous increases in automobile exhausts, and domestic use of various substances have added greatly to the emergency. Efforts to meet the crisis have often been undermined by misinformation and indifference. The central focus of this paper is the effects that air pollution has, or will have, on human societies. A review of the sources and types of air pollution is followed by a detailed examination of the health, quality-of-life, and environmental effects of the air pollution cris
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ion increases global warming and crop failure increases hunger and poverty (Moeller, 1992, p. 13). The potential for global warming, the "greenhouse effect," contains even more types of indirect effects for humanity. The sun's rays warm the earth and make life possible. Two-thirds of these rays are absorbed by the planet, while another third are reflected back into space. But the atmosphere of earth contains "carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs" that trap some of the reflected heat and warm...