Air pollution is a very important environmental and social issue and, at the same time, it is a complex problem posing multiple challenges in terms of management and mitigation of harmful pollutants. Air pollutants are emitted from anthropogenic and natural sources; they may be either emitted directly (primary pollutants) or formed in the atmosphere (as secondary pollutants).
They have a number of impacts on health, ecosystems, the built environment and the climate; they may be transported or formed over long distances; and they may affect large areas. Effective action to reduce the impact of air pollution requires a good understanding of its causes, how pollutants aretransported and transformed in the atmosphere, and how they affect humans, ecosystems, the climate, and subsequently society and the economy.
The environmental policy of the Community of Madrid is based on several pillars, including the control of air pollution, competence assumed by the Ministry of Environment, Local Administration and Land Management, specifically by the Directorate General of the Environment, according to the Decree 323/1999 of November 11.
The protection of the atmospheric environment encompasses both the control of air emissions and the knowledge of the concentration of pollutants in the ambient air, that is, the levels of immission.
To monitor the levels of immission, the Community of Madrid has an Air Quality Control Network consisting of a set of fixed automatic stations and two mobile reference laboratories: a mobile unit and a bus. All of them provide immission data in ambient air.
The main purpose of the Atmospheric Quality Control Network of the Community of Madrid is to record the concentration levels of the main air pollutants, so that the air quality levels can be defined and recommend, where appropriate, actions and policies according to the contamination situations raised.
The most relevant objectives pursued by the Air Quality Control Network are:
- Inform citizens of the state of air quality.
- Locate the areas of the Community of Madrid with major pollution problems.
- Know the evolution of air pollution in the whole of the territory of the Community and over time.
- Comply with the European Directives on the protection of atmospheric air that require to know the pollution where it occurs; These series of historical data allow to evaluate the air quality and define the environmental policy more in line with the territorial reality.
- Obtain the necessary information to be able to define the action plans marked by the European Directives in case of exceeding alert thresholds; These Directives define the levels of contamination allowed and the possible action plans to be implemented in case of exceeding these levels.
Air pollution;Effect of smog on humans
However, the effect of air pollution is global. In particular, there are three consequences:
- greenhouse effect;
- hole in the ozone;
- acid rain.
The greenhouse effect is due to some substances released into the air which , to greatly simplify the phenomenon, force the planet to retain more heat from the sunlight than would naturally occur.
This phenomenon, in the long run, leads to an increase in the planet’s temperatures, with a consequent increase in sea levels and problems of desertification and rapid change in the flora and fauna of the entire planet.
The ozone hole , on the other hand, reduces the natural protection we have against the UV rays of the sun , making sunlight potentially harmful to our skin.
Finally, acid rain is due to the presence of sulfur and excess nitrogen in the atmosphere, which end up in the ground and on the plants. These phenomena greatly reduce the fertility of the earth and the quality of agricultural products . A further effect of air pollution on human life is given by the consequences on our health. In fact, smog reduces our lung capacity and promotes diseases of the respiratory organs. So let’s see what we can do to reduce air pollution.
MEASURES AGAINST AIR POLLUTION
Fighting air pollution is not impossible , indeed it is probably an obligatory choice if we want to keep our planet in an optimal condition for our life. To do this, a series of behaviors must be used, both in the short and the long term.
In the short term we will have to begin to give up more and more on the car and opt for public transport . Alternatively, if we really need the car, we will have to use the latest, less polluting, or turn to the increasingly popular car sharing services that allow us to have a car only when we need it and at low cost.
Another point on which we can have a big impact is the heating or cooling of our house: a careful use of the boiler and the air conditioner can help reduce domestic pollution and to reduce our emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. A great help will come soon, and indeed smart cities are already coming from smart cities. Sustainable mobility, with electric or gas transportation, and an integrated bike and car sharing service will increasingly help the citizen to give up the car and launch himself on the means.
At the same time the creation of fast communication infrastructures such as fiber, combined with building 4.0 will do the rest. So in public buildings (schools, offices, hospitals, etc.) as well as at home, we will be able to manage the use of heating and air conditioners optimally, or start the washing machine at times when electricity costs and pollutes less .