Smog

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Smog

Smog is basically derived from the merging of two words; smoke and fog. Smog is also used to describe the type of fog which has smoke or soot in it. Smog is a yellowish or blackish fog formed mainly by a mixture of pollutants in the atmosphere which consists of fine particles and ground-level ozone. Smog which occurs mainly because of air pollution can also be defined as a mixture of various gases with dust and water vapor. Smog also refers to hazy air that makes breathing difficult.

How is it Formed?

The atmospheric pollutants or gases that form smog are released in the air when fuels are burnt. When sunlight and its heat react with these gases and fine particles in the atmosphere, smog is formed. It is purely caused by air pollution. Ground level ozone and fine particles are released in the air due to complex photochemical reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOC), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Causes

Smog is produced by a set of complex photochemical reactions involving volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides and sunlight, which form ground-level ozone.

Smog-forming pollutants come from many sources such as automobile exhaust, power plants, factories, and many consumer products, including paint, hairspray, charcoal starter fluid, chemical solvents, and even plastic popcorn packaging.

In typical urban areas, at least half of the smog precursors come from cars, buses, trucks, and boats.

Major smog occurrences often are linked to heavy motor vehicle traffic, high temperatures, sunshine, and calm winds. Weather and geography affect the location and severity of smog. Because temperature regulates the length of time it takes for smog to form, smog can occur more quickly and be more severe on a hot, sunny day.

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When temperature inversions occur (that is, when warm air stays near the ground instead of rising) and the wind is calm, smog may remain trapped over a city for days. As traffic and other sources add more pollutants to the air, the smog gets worse. This situation occurs frequently in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ironically, smog is often more severe farther away from the sources of pollution, because the chemical reactions that causes smog take place in the atmosphere while pollutants are drifting on the wind.

How can it affect my health?

Exposure to smog can lead to several different types of short-term health problems due to its ozone content. These include:

  • Coughing and throat or chest irritation: High levels of ozone can irritate your respiratory system, generally lasting for a few hours after you’ve been exposed to smog. However, ozone can continue to harm your lungs even after symptoms disappear.
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms: If you suffer from asthma, exposure to high levels of ozone from smog can trigger asthma attacks.
  • Difficulty breathing and lung damage: it can make it feel difficult to breathe deeply, especially during exercise, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is because of the effects of ozone on lung function.


Preventive Measures

  • Steps should be taken to avoid the recurrence of this calamity. Media campaign for public awareness regarding the sources of pollutants causing smog should be launched. Banning deforestation and promotion of tree implantation is required nationwide as trees transpire and decreases temperature by cooling effect which indirectly prevents photo-chemical reactions to occur and minimizing the formation of air pollutants. Recycling of solid waste is a good alternative to open burning of waste and garbage. Using low emission, low carbon fuels and combustion free power sources like wind and solar power are important for primary prevention as these are safer for health and are also low cost and energy efficient.
  • Limit your outdoor activities if ozone levels are unhealthy, as elevated ozone levels increase your chances of being affected by this phenomena the longer you stay outside.
  • Keep your activities gentler on smoggy days, as the more vigorous your activity level, the greater your chances of experiencing respiratory problems.

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  • Don’t take chances with smog on days when air quality is poor. The best approach is to spend less time outdoors and replace vigorous activities, like running or biking, with gentler options, such as walking. You can also schedule your outside activities for the early morning or evening, when ozone levels are low. These simple steps can help protect you and your family on smoggy days, whether you live in a major city or you’re just passing through.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan there is no any air quality monitoring facility so that we can timely aware the masses about the dangerous effects of air pollution, in this regard Government of Pakistan should take necessary steps.

It is the fundamental right of every Pakistani to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. It is the right of every working man and woman to be able to get to work and home again without getting sick. It is the right of every child to play outdoors without acquiring respiratory disease.

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