Air pollution

Nature and the role it plays in air pollution

By Yoki Ho

What comes to your mind when you think of the causes of air pollution? Fumes of vehicles, air pollutants from factories, burning of fuels… Apart from man-made sources, nature accounts for the poor air quality conditions. It is of utmost importance that we are informed about nature’s role in air pollution to conserve our environment in better ways.. The air pollution caused by natural processes sustains over long periods of time. Here are some examples, check if you have heard of them already!


  • In a barren land where there is little rainfall, strong winds can blow away the soil and dust easily without the protection of vegetation. Sandstorms spread the air pollutants over a large area. This results in poor air quality, blocked visibility and health concerns especially respiratory diseases.


  • Wildfires naturally occur in areas suffering from prolonged dry periods. Due to season changes, a lack of precipitation and other natural causes, wildfires break out and give out smoke and carbon monoxide . Not only will this increases carbon levels in the atmosphere and contaminate our clean air, but it also accelerates the warming effect (Greenhouse Effect)

Animal and Vegetation

  • Animal digestion, in particular by cattle, released methane, a greenhouse gas 
    • Note: High levels of methane can reduce the amount of oxygen breathed from the air. This can result in mood changes, slurred speech, vision problems, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, facial flushing and headache. … Skin or eye contact with liquefied methane released under pressure may cause frostbite.
  • On the other hand, in some regions are known for its vegetation of species such as black gum, poplar, oak, and willow trees. However, the planting emits significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on warmer days. Thy react with primary anthropogenic ( man-made) pollutants and produce low-lying seasonal hazes rich in ozone.

Volcanic Activity

  • Volcanic eruptions can be a major source of natural air pollution as well. Tremendous amounts of sulfuric, chlorine, and ash products leads are released into the atmosphere . Furthermore, they are dispersed over large areas by wind.

But by far the greatest contributing to air pollution today are those that are a result of human impact. From reliance on fossil fuels, heavy industry, to accumulation of waste, modern agriculture, and other man-made processes… Even though self-regulating mechanisms of the Earth’s atmosphere can sequestrate carbon, other pollutants in air to maintain a balance of ecosystem. Human activities are threatening to permanently alter that balance. We are adding pollutants to the air faster than the Earth’s natural mechanisms can remove them. We need to educate ourselves on the impacts of air pollution. Think about the acid rain, smog, global warming, health problems directly attributed to exposure to harmful pollutants. It is our aim to achieve sustainability and produce less pollution from now on. For our future generations and for ourselves.