41. Beware The Air

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Can you see sky clearly where you live? If not, the air may be polluted. Polluted air can smell bad or look smoky. But pollution could also be there without your smelling or seeing it.

Air pollution comes from soot, fly ash and chemicals. These are released by auto exhaust, chimney smoke, burning garbage dumps, and substances sprayed in the air. Soot from burning fuel oil is the main pollutant that gives smoke its dark color. Fly ash is tiny ashes that go up and out of chimneys. They make smoke even darker. Chemicals of many kinds that you cannot see mix with the smoke. Smog, the eye-stinging haze that hangs over most cities, is produced when chemicals in the air mix with sunlight.

Air pollutants, such as soot and fly ash, settle down on things and make them dirty. Blown by the wind, air pollutants act like sandpaper and scratch away buildings and statues. Chemical air pollutants discolor and eat away materials. Can you find any change in the color of bricks on old buildings near where you live? Is there a statue in the park that is crumbling away? If you find these things, chances are that air pollution was one of the causes.

Plants are also harmed by air pollution. Their leaves may get dry. Brown spots may appear on them. Or the leaves may turn yellow and fall off. Orange and other citrus trees are especially hurt. Even house plants suffer from air pollution from cooking fumes.

Animals are also affected by air pollution. Cattle can get sick, and so can pets. For example, a small amount of some chemicals sprayed near an aquarium may kill pet fish. Care must be taken so that you and your pets are safe from fumes. Harmful fumes can come from may places. Fumes from paints, lotions, glue, cleaning fluids and other chemicals can be harmful.

Even a little air pollution can make your eyes burn and your head ache. It can tire you out. It can blur your vision and make you dizzy. It can also make it hard for you to breathe. Air pollutants can also affect people with asthma. It can make catching colds and flu more likely. Air pollutants have even been linked to some cases of serious diseases, such as lung cancer and heart ailments, thus making air pollution an evil to beware of.

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