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Chapter 8 – Atmospheric Pollution

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:


Atmospheric or air pollution causes damage to the climate when harmful biological or chemical molecules are released into the atmosphere. There are different types of air pollutants, such as gases, particles, and molecules. The accumulation of large amounts of gases and other contaminants in the atmosphere results in global warming, acid rain, ozone depletion and respiratory diseases. Let’s get to know about each of them in detail.

You know that acid rain is a result of air pollution. Acid rain is a form of precipitation of high nitric and sulfuric acid levels from human activities and fossil fuel combustion. Acid deposition refers to the movement of acidity from the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface. Average rain is slightly acidic, with a pH of 5.6, while acid rain generally has a pH range of 4.2 and 4.4.

  • At high temperatures, molecular nitrogen and molecular oxygen coming from the internal combustion engine and lightning discharges react to nitric oxide.

                                                     N2 + O2 → 2NO

  • Nitric oxide then reacts with the excess oxygen in the atmosphere to give nitrogen dioxide. It is responsible for the brown colour of the smog.

                                                     2NO + O2 → 2NO2

  • When nitrogen dioxide combines with rainwater, it forms a mixture of nitrous acid and nitric acid.

                                              2NO2 + H2O → HNO2 + HNO

  • Excess amounts of Sulfur dioxide are released by various natural sources, such as volcanoes, forest fires, the microbial decay of organic materials, and fuel-burning.

                                                             S + O2 → SO2

                                                           2SO2 + O2 → SO3

                                     SO2 + ½ O2 soot dust or metal oxide → SO3

  • The sulfur oxides react with rainwater to give sulfuric acid.

                                                       SO3 + H2O → H2SO4

  • Most of the acid rain results from human activities upon burning fossil fuels, improper waste disposal. When the Sulphur and Nitrogen particles mix with the rainwater to form acids, they spread through the atmosphere, reach the Earth, and flow across the water bodies.
  • Power plants, factories, automobiles burn fuels that produce polluting gases.
  • Vegetable decay, pesticides and fertilisers, wildfires, and emission from volcanoes release some chemicals that cause acid rain.
  • Soil Chemistry

    • Soil contains minerals such as Mercury and Aluminum, which are usually not absorbed by plants and animals.
    • But due to acid rain, the minerals undergo reaction with the acids and affect the food chain. Nutrients and minerals are washed off from the soil.
  • Water Bodies
    • Acid rain has many ecological effects, primarily on lakes, streams, wetlands, and other aquatic environments.
    • As the acidity of a lake increases, the water becomes more apparent. The numbers of fish and other water animals decline, resulting in the depletion of oxygen levels in the water.

The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring phenomenon responsible for heating of Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The Earth has an optimum climate that supports life, unlike other planets. It is because of the presence of a thin layer of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gas has the property of absorbing infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface and reradiating it back to Earth’s surface. Some examples of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, Nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.

Source: Energy Education

Effects of Greenhouse Gases

  • Higher temperatures, global warming, damage to aquatic life.
  • Melting of glaciers, rise in sea levels and ice caps, climate change, reduction in crop yield, decrease in rainfall—disruption of habitats such as coral reefs.

Global warming is one of the Greenhouse effects that increase Earth’s average surface temperature due to the impact of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or deforestation.

Ways to Reduce the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

  • Public transportation: The various modes of transport emit about 30% of greenhouse gases. So, to cut out, you can use a carpool or public transport. Adopt a healthier lifestyle, and one can use a bicycle.
  • Conservation of Energy: Use renewable energy sources and alternative energy sources like solar energy, hydro energy, or ocean thermal energy.
  • Afforestation: You should Plant trees on a large scale. Do not burn leaves, wood, paper, etc.
  • Awareness: Educating and creating awareness among people about greenhouse effects and global warming.
  • Ozone gas is formed in the atmosphere by the action of UV rays. UV radiation strikes an oxygen molecule, splitting off the oxygen atoms.

                                                                O2 + UV → O + O

  • Each oxygen atom collides with an O2 and another third molecule to produce two O3 molecules. The third molecule is necessary to remove excess energy associated with the collision.

                                                         O + O2 + third molecule → 2O3

                                                          Net reaction: 3O2 + UV → 2O3

Source: APOZA

  • UV radiation is involved in the destruction of O3.
  • Ozone depletion occurs when chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, gases formerly found in aerosol spray, propellants, and refrigerants, are released into the atmosphere.
  • The CFCs move upward and reach the stratosphere. In the stratosphere, CFCs are dissociated by UV light to produce chlorine atoms.
  • The destruction of O3 occurs when these gases react with the ozone and break them into oxygen and chlorine monoxide.
  • It results in the depletion of the ozone layer and the formation of an ozone hole. UV radiation can enter the Earth’s atmosphere through the ozone hole and cause several harmful effects.

Source: Public Health

Climate changes due to the release of harmful gases and contaminants into the atmosphere result in acid rain, global warming, and ozone depletion. One should be practical and look for ways to reduce atmospheric pollution.

  1. What are some of the greenhouse gases and their sources?

    Greenhouse gases Sources
    Carbon DioxideIt is released when fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil are burnt. Soil degradation and deforestation add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
    MethaneIt results from fossil fuel production and transportation, agriculture, livestock, and organic waste decay.
    Nitrous OxideIt is produced from fertiliser application, fossil fuel, and biomass combustion.


  2. What is the function of the ozone layer?
    The layer absorbs the radiations and prohibits them from entering the outer surface of the Earth. The ozone layer occupies the lower part of the atmosphere to remove the unwanted pollutants from the Earth’s surface.
    The ozone layer shields the Earth from UV rays. UV radiation can cause skin pigmentation, abnormalities in a growing fetus and even skin cancer.
  3. What are the benefits of global warming?
    Crops and plants grow better in the presence of high levels of CO2 and become drought tolerant.
    Some of the frozen regions of the Earth experience more plant growth.
  4. How to reduce acid rain?
    Use alternative energy sources like wind or solar power as they produce fewer emissions.
    Should limit the release of sulphuric dioxide and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

To know more about how atmospheric pollution affects human life, check out the library of videos on the MSVgo app by downloading it from the iOS App Store, Google Play Store or visit the website.

High School Physics

  • Alternating Current
  • Atoms
  • Communication Systems
  • Current Electricity
  • Dual nature of Radiation and Matter
  • Electric Charges and Fields
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • Electron Beams and Radioactivity
  • Electrons and Photons
  • Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
  • Fluid Pressure
  • Force and Acceleration
  • Force And Laws Of Motion
  • Gravitation
  • Internal Energy
  • Kinetic Theory
  • Law of motion
  • Light – Reflection And Refraction
  • Magnetic Effects Of Electric Current
  • Magnetism and Matter
  • Management Of Natural Resources
  • Mechanical properties of Fluids
  • Mechanical properties of Solids
  • Motion
  • Motion in a plane
  • Motion in a straight line
  • Moving Charges and Magnetism
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclei
  • Oscillations
  • Our Environment
  • Paths of Heat
  • Physical world
  • Ray optics and optical instruments
  • Semiconductor Devices
  • Semiconductor Electronics: Materials, Devices and Simple Circuits
  • Simple Machines
  • Sound
  • Sources Of Energy
  • Specific and Latent Heats
  • Spherical Mirrors
  • Static Electricity
  • Systems of Particles and Rotational motion
  • Thermal properties of matter
  • Thermodynamics
  • Units and Measurement
  • Vectors, Scalar Quantities and Elementary Calculus
  • Wave Optics
  • Waves
  • Work, Power and Energy

High School Chemistry

  • Acids, Bases and Salts
  • Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers
  • Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
  • Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Alkyl and Aryl Halides
  • Amines
  • Analytical Chemistry 
  • Atomic Structure
  • Atoms And Molecules
  • Basic concepts of Chemistry
  • Biomolecules
  • Carbon And Its Compounds
  • Carboxylic acids and Acid Derivatives
  • Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structures
  • Chemical Energetics
  • Chemical Equilibria
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Chemical Reactions And Equations
  • Chemical Reactions and Their Mechanisms
  • Chemistry in Everyday Life
  • Chemistry of p-Block elements
  • Chemistry of Transition and Inner Transition
  • Classification of Elements
  • Coordination Compounds
  • Cyanide, Isocyanide, Nitro compounds and Amines
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrolysis
  • Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Equilibrium
  • Ethers and Carbonyl compounds
  • Haloalkanes and Haloarenes
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hydrogen
  • Ideal solutions
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Ionic equilibria
  • Matter
  • Matter Around Us
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  • Mole Concept and Stoichiometry
  • Natural Resources
  • Organic Chemistry – Basic Principles
  • Periodic Classification of Elements
  • Physical and Chemical Changes
  • Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
  • Polymers
  • Preparation, Properties and Uses of Compounds
  • Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
  • Redox Reactions
  • Relative Molecular Mass and Mole
  • States of Matter
  • Structure Of The Atom
  • Study of Compounds
  • Study of Gas Laws
  • Study of Representative Elements
  • Surface Chemistry
  • The d-block and f-block elements
  • The Gaseous State
  • The p-Block Elements
  • The Periodic Table
  • The s-Block Elements
  • The Solid State
  • Thermodynamics

High School Biology

  • Absorption and Movement of Water in Plants
  • Adolescent Issues
  • Anatomy of Flowering Plants
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Bacteria and Fungi-Friends and Foe
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biofertilizers
  • Biological Classification
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomolecules
  • Biotechnology and its Applications
  • Biotic Community
  • Body Fluids and Circulation
  • Breathing and Exchange of Gases
  • Cell – Unit of Life
  • Cell Cycle and Cell Division
  • Cell Division and Structure of Chromosomes
  • Cell Reproduction
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Chemical Coordination and Integration
  • Circulation
  • Control And Coordination
  • Crop Improvement
  • Digestion and Absorption
  • Diversity In Living Organisms
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Issues
  • Excretory Products and their Elimination
  • Flowering Plants
  • Genes and Chromosomes
  • Health and Diseases
  • Health and Its Significance
  • Heredity And Evolution
  • Heredity and Variation
  • How Do Organisms Reproduce?
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  • Molecular Basis of Inheritance
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  • Neural Control And Coordination
  • Nutrition in Human Beings
  • Organism and Population
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
  • Plant Growth and Development
  • Plant Kingdom
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  • Principles of Inheritance and Variation
  • Reproduction and Development in Angiosperms
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  • Strategies for Enhancement in Food Production
  • Structural Organisation in Animals
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  • The Endocrine System
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  • The Living World
  • The Nervous System and Sense Organs
  • Tissues
  • Transpiration
  • Transport in Plants

High School Math

  • Algebra – Arithmatic Progressions
  • Algebra – Complex Numbers and Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra – Linear Inequalities
  • Algebra – Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables
  • Algebra – Polynomials
  • Algebra – Principle of Mathematical Induction
  • Algebra – Quadratic Equations
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Calculus – Applications of Derivatives
  • Calculus – Applications of the Integrals
  • Calculus – Continuity and Differentiability
  • Calculus – Differential Equations
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  • Geometry – Area
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  • Geometry – Introduction to Euclid’s Geometry
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  • Linear Programming
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  • Mensuration – Areas
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  • Number Systems
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  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability
  • Sequence and Series
  • Sets and Functions
  • Statistics 
  • Trignometry – Height and Distance
  • Trignometry – Identities
  • Trignometry – Introduction

Middle School Science

  • Acids, Bases And Salts
  • Air and Its Constituents
  • Basic Biology
  • Body Movements
  • Carbon and Its Compounds
  • Cell – Structure And Functions
  • Changes Around Us
  • Chemical Effects Of Electric Current
  • Chemistry in Your Life
  • Coal And Petroleum
  • Combustion And Flame
  • Components Of Food
  • Conservation Of Plants And Animals
  • Crop Production And Management
  • Electric Current And Its Effects
  • Electricity And Circuits
  • Elements and Compounds
  • Fibre To Fabric
  • Food production and management
  • Force And Pressure
  • Forests: Our Lifeline
  • Friction
  • Fun With Magnets
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out
  • Getting To Know Plants
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen
  • Life Processes: Nutrition in Animals and Plants
  • Light, Shadows And Reflections
  • Materials: Metals And Non-Metals
  • Matter and Its States
  • Metals and Non-metals
  • Micro Organisms: Friend And Foe
  • Motion And Measurement Of Distances
  • Motion And Time
  • Nutrition In Animals
  • Nutrition In Plants
  • Organization in Living Things
  • Our Environment
  • Physical And Chemical Changes
  • Pollution and conservation
  • Pollution Of Air And Water
  • Reaching The Age Of Adolescence
  • Reproduction In Animals
  • Reproduction In Plants
  • Respiration In Organisms
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Separation Of Substances
  • Simple Machines
  • Soil
  • Some Natural Phenomena
  • Sorting Materials Into Groups
  • Sound
  • Stars And The Solar System
  • Structure of Atom
  • Synthetic Fibers And Plastics
  • The Living Organisms And Their Surroundings
  • Transfer of Heat
  • Transformation of Substances
  • Transportation In Animals And Plants
  • Universe
  • Waste-water Story
  • Water: A Precious Resource
  • Weather, Climate And Adaptations Of Animals To Climate
  • Winds, Storms And Cyclones

Middle School Math

  • Addition
  • Area and Its Boundary
  • Boxes and Sketches
  • Data Handling
  • Fun With Numbers
  • Heavy and Light
  • How Many
  • Long And Short
  • Mapping
  • Measurement
  • Money
  • Multiplication and Factors
  • Multiply and Divide
  • Numbers
  • Parts and Wholes
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Patterns
  • Play With Patterns
  • Rupees And Paise
  • Shapes And Angles
  • Shapes And Designs
  • Shapes and Space
  • Similarity
  • Smart Charts
  • Squares
  • Subtraction
  • Tables And Shares
  • Tenths and Hundredths
  • Time
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