Understanding Aerosols

At J-Tech Solar, we believe in not only caring for the planet we live on, but understanding it as well. The science behind the health of our planet fascinates us, and it’s extremely complex. This week we’re discussing the relationship between aerosols and greenhouse gas emissions, and how this affects the environment. Continue on to learn about the negatives and, yes, a few positives, about aerosols in the environment.

closeup of caucasian male spraying aerosols from a can

What is air pollution?

The density of air pollution varies depending on weather, location, and type of pollutants in the air. Regardless of the specifics, air pollution is always toxic, and can cause serious physical harm. Air pollution is believed to be responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming, and many people attribute the pollution to their physical ailments. Physical symptoms from air pollution can range from minor cardiovascular illness to a shortened life expectancy to asthma. Reducing air pollution is crucial for maintaining a healthy population and planet. However, what if air pollution benefits the Earth, too?

Possible upsides to pollution

An important thing to understand, is that there are two main types of air pollution we emit. Greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, are a main pollutant in our air. Aerosols are tiny particles in the atmosphere which scatter light and can appear like a fog in severe cases. Typically speaking, the air pollution you see and are affected by is in the form of aerosols. Some aerosols cool and some warm, but most humans emit cooling aerosols. These particles cool the surface of the earth by reflecting sunlight back into space, or at least stimulating clouds that keep us cool. On the contrary, greenhouse gasses emit heat, and cause a warming effect on our climate. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is due to the greenhouse gasses, and many climate researchers have studied how aerosols might be able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

aerosol cans in a factory being filled

So, do we want air pollution?

To summarize, research shows that aerosols cool the atmosphere by reflecting light, which reduces global warming. Aerosols also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which allows our oceans and lands to absorb more nutrients. When you look at these two impacts of aerosols, you might begin to wonder why we worry about air pollution in the first place.

Aerosols might hold some positive effects on our climate as we battle with global warming, but most of them make people very, very sick. By breathing in these particles, people develop heart and lung disease over time, as well as other respiratory illnesses. Additionally, these aerosols can throw off the balance of our climate, which can cause weird weather patterns around the world. For example, India and China have seen far less rainfall since the Industrial Revolution, making necessary crop production extremely difficult.

What will happen when we get rid of aerosols?

Most places around the world are taking action to reduce the amount of aerosols emitted into the atmosphere. By changing the chemicals used in certain products to completely refraining from providing aerosol cans to the public, countries are working together to find creative ways to reduce air pollutants. When we are able to drastically reduce the amount of aerosol in the atmosphere (years, and years, and years from now), we might see more rapid heating of our planet. Global warming is an issue now, but will be even more of an issue once we lose our little aerosol reflectors. However, working to reduce pollutants means reducing more than just aerosols, so overall, reducing pollutants should help reduce global warming.

Currently, scientists are working tirelessly to stop or reverse the effects of global warming. While the aerosols help combat global warming in a small way, they are also extremely harmful to all oxygen-breathing life and must be reduced. It’s best for each individual to take as much action as possible to help reduce land, water, and air pollution while we push for change on a global scale. Visit our blog for endless tips and tricks on how to go green without breaking your bank or changing your lifestyle completely. If your next step is utilizing solar power for a renewable source of energy, reach out today and we’d be happy to get you started on your solar journey!