There is a direct link between air pollution and food quality. Because of the world’s dependency on fossil fuels, there has been a dangerous increase in gas emissions. These gasses are produced from car exhausts, power plants, and other fossil fuel sources. These gasses are powerful pollutants that threaten the health and nutritional value of crops.
The agriculture industry also significantly contributes to air pollution and air pollution impacts the quality of food production. This unhealthy cycle continues to deteriorate the quality of food sources that also threatens the ability to feed and nourish starving and developing countries.
Overall food pollution is a dangerous cycle that threatens the wellbeing of millions and is predicted to worsen significantly in the years to come.
Food pollution entails having the presence of toxic chemicals or contaminations in food that does not exist naturally. Food contamination is dangerous to your health because it leads to mild or severe health problems. More than 70 million have foodborne illnesses yearly, resulting in 5,000 annual deaths.
Common health problems include:
- Metabolic problems
- Hormone deficiencies
- Neurological Health problems
- Deteriorating cognitive function
- Food Poisoning
The main source of the pollution originates from car pollutants in major cities. From 1980 to 2010 there was a 26% increase in air pollution from vehicle exhausts, oil refineries, and petrochemicals that burn in the sunlight. Because of the increase in global temperatures the amount of gas emissions increase, which allows pollutants to last from weeks to months. The danger of the rise in gas emissions is not only towards overall health but food security as well.
Gas emissions cause between 5 and 12% of crop losses globally. The main crop losses due to pollution are wheat, rice, maize, and soybean. These are stable crops that nourish global populations because of their product availability. By risking the quality of food security threatens starvation that impacts millions globally. Because of crop losses, there are approximately 20 billion food losses annually.
Any pollutant that comes into contact with your food can potentially pollute it. Ground pollution consists of contaminated soil and roots that directly infect crops, fruits, and vegetables. Air pollution directly affects food security because rain immediately enters food sources that are easily contaminated from air pollution. Air pollution damages the nutritional quality and safety of most major food crops, which risks your food security and nutritional value.
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The crops most sensitive to ozone gasses are:
Having these crops at risk for their overall production safety threatens the ability to feed the global pollution.
Agriculture is the largest contributor to ammonia pollution that emits nitrogen gas. Nitrogen gas emissions negatively affect soil quality and its ability to produce safe quality food and animal products. With the agriculture trade expanding to feed the increasing global population, there is an increase in overall pollution.
Fruits and vegetables are especially at risk due to their direct contact with polluted soil and groundwater. Toxic bacteria may contaminate food products. The common sources of pollution that directly compromise fruits, vegetables, and crops are:
- Polluted soil or groundwater
- Comprised irrigation that produces polluted water
- Large amounts of air pollution
- Pesticides, Insecticides and Herbicides and fertilizers
- Food processing, packaging, and handling
- Compromised sewage system
The most dangerous at-risk food source is fish. Fish are at the highest risk of contamination because of their exposure to pollution within the ocean and their habitats. Their habitats include coral, seagrasses, and mangroves, which are degraded yearly with climate change.
Fish are also at risk due to the over the fishing crisis and climate change. Both of these phenomenons threaten the existence of fish, where 20 percent of the world’s protein consumption derives from fisheries and aquatic animals. Also, fisheries provide a stable income to many communities globally, which allows many local economies to function successfully.
The endangerment of aquatic animals is dangerous because of the continued food pollution cycle. This cycle of pollution continues when any bird or animal consumes fish, which then contaminates the animal and the polluted cycle continues.
Scientists are developing technical studies to reduce nitrogen gas pollution. Researchers are also attempting to breed new crops resilient to gas emissions. These crops would be resilient to chemicals while nontoxic chemicals are developing to limit pollution emissions.
An alternative to growing crops traditionally is using factories to eliminate environmental pollution. By eliminating environmental threats you decrease unpredictable weather exposure and pests. This would be a helpful alternative solution with the growing need for adequate safe crops to feed starving populations.
Another solution to stop the food pollution cycle is through education. Alternative ways to produce quality and safe products only continue when you are aware of the consequences gas pollutions has on your food sources. Having a working understanding of the part your play in this cycle and how to limit your exposure to harmful pollutants better prepares you in combating its negative side effects. Knowing where your food comes from allows you to make better food choices that increase your chances of quality nutrition.