Air Pollution: Research Problem and Methods


Air pollution can be termed as the introduction of pollutants into the atmosphere that may cause injuries or discomfort to human being, other living organisms, and the environment at large. The air pollutants can either be chemicals (liquid and gas), particulate matter (suspended materials), and the biological materials that are introduced into the air (Copper & Nathalie, 1996). Air pollutants can be classified as man-made or natural pollutants which are further classified as primary or secondary pollutants.

In primary pollutants, the pollutants are produced or emitted at the point source, for instance, emissions from the traffic which is a Man-made primary pollutant, and ashes from a volcanic eruption which is a natural primary pollutant. On the other hand, secondary pollutants are the pollutants that result from the reaction of primary pollutants in the atmosphere, for instance, the formation of smog which is formed after the reaction of carbon dioxide and other elements in the atmosphere (Rowe, et al, 1986).

Air pollution is mainly caused by Carbon Dioxide produced from various human activities which may include, burning of fossil fuels, emissions from industries, and emissions from vehicles among others. Even though carbon dioxide is released from human exhalation, the amount is insignificant in the pollution of the atmosphere.

However, due to the large number of emissions being released from industries and other manufacturing plants, the production of Carbon Dioxide has largely increased into the atmosphere and this has resulted in air pollution and global warming. Although Carbon Dioxide plays the main role in the pollution of air, other pollutants like Nitrogen oxides, Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds, Toxic Metals, and Particulate Matter play a role in the pollution of the air (Ostro, 1986).

Due to the realization that air pollution has effects on the health, communities, and the wider environment, various governments have put in place policies, rules, and regulations to reduce the production of air pollutants, for instance, the Clean Air Act of 1952 in the United Kingdom limited the use coal as a fuel and introduction of tall exhaust pipes from industries that emitted pollutants at a higher level in the atmosphere. Another effort by the governments is the introduction of commuter trains which reduces the number of private cars in the urban areas thus reducing traffic emissions (Copper, 1997).

Statement of the Problem

Despite the efforts by various governments to reduce the emissions of air pollutants, air pollution has largely increased and its effects have been widely felt, for instance, the death of 1200 people in London in 1952 due to smog (Ostro, 1986). The ill-health of people that have been caused by air pollution has been felt by a large group of people in the world with the effect mostly felt by the old, undernourished, and very young people. Over the years, the health of human beings has deteriorated drastically due to breathing in fine particulate matter that is found in the air (Maddision, et al, 1997).

This has been seen in the increased number of patients that suffer from respiratory diseases, lung disease, and cardiovascular problems which increase the risk of a heart attack the chemicals that are found in the air have also been known to pollute food and water bodies. This food and the water are being used by the human being and on their ingestion, they may cause problems to the throat and the digestive system. To add to this, pollutants in the air have resulted in acid rain which has brought corrosion to the roofing materials, death to plants and other living animals, and skin diseases to human beings (Rowe, et al, 1986).

Justification on the Choice of Topic

Over the years the tremendous effects of air pollution have been felt by a large community in the world. With the health of people in mind, the governments have tried to reduce the emissions from industries and vehicles to no avail. The increased amount of pollutants in the air has contributed to global warming which has lead to increased heat in the earth, melting of ice caps resulting to rise in sea level, increased drought and flooding and all these have affected the human health in one way or another. Thus there is need for an extensive research on the effects of air pollution on human health and the environment at large (Copper, 1997).

Research Design

A research design can be defined as a plan that holds the research together. It is divided in to five elements which include observation, treatment of the group, assignment and time. This research is best done by the use of Experimental technique which will allow for simple random technique to be used in sample selection.

Research methods

Both surveys and observation research methods will be employed in this research. The hen using surveys the researcher will use both questionnaires (where he or she will formulate questions and give them to the respondents) and interviews (where the researcher will formulate questions and administer them he or herself). In the use of observation, the researcher will formulate an observation guide that is to be used in the field. The researcher should ensure that he has some recording materials like a film where he can record the findings ((Maddision, et al, 1997).

Resources that can be helpful in the researcher

The following resources can help when conducting this research; enough time, money for traveling to residential areas, writing materials and photographic materials for taking pictures in the field.


Cropper, M. & Nathalie, S. (1996), Valuing the Health Effects of Air Pollution. World Bank. Washington, D.C.

Ostro, B. (1994), Estimating the Health Effects of Air Pollution: Policy Research Working Paper. World Bank. Washington, D.C.

Rowe, R., et al. (1986), The Benefits of Air Pollution Control in California. Energy and Resource Consultants Inc., Boulder, Colo.

Maddison, D., et al. (1997), Air Pollution and the Social Costs of Fuels. World Bank, Environment Department, Washington, D.C.

Cropper, M. (1997), The Health Effects of Air Pollution in Delhi, India. Cambridge University.

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