Sources of Air Pollution
The maintenance of air quality depends primarily on the surrounding air pollution that is present within the nearby surroundings. Air pollutants are substances that can harm the health of humans as well as the environment. Pollutants come in various forms like gases, solid particles and liquid droplets. This may also be natural in form or man-made. Such substances can be categorized as either, primary, secondary or primary and secondary. Primary air pollutants are materials that are directly emitted from a progression of activity, like when a volcano erupts and produces ashes. Another example is the carbon monoxide that comes from motor vehicles and sulfur dioxide which are generally produced by factories.
Pollutants (secondary type) are those which are not released directly into the air, but forms in the air as primary pollutants interact with each other. Ground level ozone in the form of a photochemical smog is an example of a secondary pollutant. Other air contaminants are considered to be both primary and secondary since they are formed directly and are results of other primary pollutants.
Classification of Air Pollutants
Pollutants Created by Human Activities:
- Sulfur oxides – sulfur dioxides are chemical compounds which can normally be found within the vicinity of volcanoes as a product of its eruption; and within nearby surroundings of different industrial processes. Coal and petroleum contains sulfur compounds which if affected by combustion creates sulfur dioxide.
- Nitrogen oxides – nitrogen dioxide comes from high temperature burning. This can normally be observed as a brown haze that creates a dome or plume shape above cities. Nitrogen dioxide is a reddish-brown poisonous gas with a sharp biting stench.
- Carbon monoxide – an odorless, colorless, non-irritating lethal kind of gas, which is an offshoot of the unfinished burning of fuel such as wood, natural gas and coal. The major source of carbon monoxide is the exhaust from vehicles.
- Volatile organic compounds – volatile organic compounds are significant outdoor pollutants. They are often categorized separately into methane and non-methane. Methane is an important gas found in greenhouses that adds to the global warming. Other hydrocarbon VOCs are also important parts of the greenhouse gases which have a significant role in the formation of the ozone and in the lengthening of the presence of methane within the atmosphere though the outcome differs on a locality’s air quality.
- Particulate Matters - Particulates are also called as particulate matter (PM) or fine particles of liquid or solid which are floating in a gas. Aerosol on the other hand pertains to particles and gas combined. The sources of particulate matter can either be natural or man-made. Several particulates happen naturally such as coming from volcanoes, grassland fires, dust storms sea spray, etc. Human activities likewise contribute to the presence of particulates with activities like burning of fuels in vehicles, various industrial processes and running of power plants. That creates a significant volume of aerosols. Scientifically termed as anthropogenic aerosols which are man-made aerosols contribute to about ten percent of the total volume of aerosols in the atmosphere. The rising quantity of fine particles in the air are leading causes of lung cancer, heart diseases and distorted lung functions.
- Toxic or lethal metals like lead, copper and cadmium.
- CFCs which are damaging to the ozone layer coming from products that are presently prohibited from being used.
- Ammonia – Ammonia which comes from agricultural processes. Ammonia is a compound with a pungent odor that contributes greatly to the nutritional requirements of terrestrial organisms by way of being a precursor for food stuffs and fertilizers. Ammonia is likewise a necessary building block for the production of lots of pharmaceuticals. While it is widely used, ammonia is considered to be hazardous and acidic.
- Odors that comes from wastes, factories and sewers.
- Radioactive pollutants which are generated by nuclear explosions, explosives from war and other natural procedures like the radioactive decomposition of radon.
Pollutants of the Secondary Type
- Photochemical smog formed from particulate matters of gaseous primary pollutants and other compounds. Classic smog is a type of air pollution that comes from the burning of coal in large amounts within a certain area that causes smoke and sulfur dioxide to mix. On the other hand, modern smog does not originate from coal burning but comes from the exhausts of vehicles and factories. These are normally formed in the atmosphere through pollutants that likewise mix with the main emissions to form a photochemical smog.
- Ground level ozone is a component of the troposphere. Chemical and photochemical results that are involved make the chemical processes that take place in the atmosphere both day and night. Coming mainly form the combustion of fuel from fossil which is a human activity, this type of pollutant is a component of smog.
Emission factors or air pollutants represent values which try to relate the quantity of a particular pollutant that is released to the ambient air with an activity related to the release of said pollutant. These aspects are generally conveyed as the pollutant’s unit weight, distance, volume or duration of the activity emitting the pollutant. These aspects facilitate the estimation of emissions from different sources of air pollution. Mostly such factors are the standard s of available data with acceptable quality and are generally assumed to be a representation of long term averages and standards.
Factors that Affect Indoor Air Quality
Insufficient indoor ventilation is focused in places where people spend most of their time. The following are common sources of air pollution that affects the quality of air inside a living space:
1. Radon (Rn) is a type of gas that is considered to be a carcinogen. It is expelled from particular spots from the earth’s surface and is usually encased inside houses.
2. Plywood and carpeting for building structures produces formaldehyde gas.
3. Solvents and paints emit volatile organic compounds (VOC) as they dried out.
4. Lead paint can be condensed to dust which can be inhaled.
5. Air fresheners, incense and other scented materials are considered to be intentional air pollutants.
6. Controlled wood fires on the stove and in fireplaces add a considerable amount of smoke particles inside and out the house.
7. Pesticides and other chemical sprays used inside houses and other establishment causes air pollution if utilized without proper ventilation.
8. Carbon monoxide poisoning is generally caused by vents and chimneys that are faulty or when charcoal is burned indoors.
9. Discharge of tetrachloroethylene or other day cleaning substances used for clothes.
The Greenhouse Effect
The term “greenhouse effect” is an incident that describes the activity of greenhouse gases, which creates a situation in the higher atmosphere by trapping heat and making the surface temperature higher and trophospheric temperatures lower. The gas that causes such remarkable changes originates from carbon monoxide that is produced from the burning of fossil fuels.
Reducing the Adverse Effects of Air Pollutants
Areas which currently have low rates of air pollution also require adequate and expensive health maintenance. This is due to the fact that even if the air quality is better that elsewhere, many residents and locals alike can breathe in all the aforementioned kind of pollutants. To minimize this risk different air pollution methods and technologies/strategies are implemented to lessen air pollution. Land use planning is currently being utilized to protect the environment by making used of it extensively for a better economy that will benefit the population.
To likewise reduce the pollution which comes from movable sources, most countries employ primary and permissive regulations that will increase fuel efficiency by using hybrid vehicles that are converted to use cleaner fuels or switching to electric vehicles.
Health Effects of Air Pollution
Many adverse health effects related to the respiratory system is attributable to air pollution. An example of this is asbestosis, which is a chronic medical condition that inflames the tissues of the lungs. This generally arises after prolonged exposures to asbestos containing materials used in building structures.
Health consequences due to air pollutants range from subtle biochemical and physiological alters to breathing difficulties that includes coughing, wheezing, cardiac conditions and worsening of existing respiratory conditions. Such effects have a consequence of increased used of medicines, frequent doctor and emergency room visits, further hospital admittance and untimely death. Places that have a high volume of air pollutants, thus with poor air quality have the consequence of children developing asthma, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections that is tied to low initial birth rate.
In another scenario, researches have shown that people who reside or live in cities where more emissions are present have a higher level of pollutants found within their systems. Patients with cystic fibrosis are made more critically ill with pollutants that come from cigarette smoke, vehicle emissions and inappropriate use of heating devices.
The health effects of poor air quality in general affect the human body’s respiratory and cardio-vascular systems. The reaction of per individual to existing air pollutants depend on the kind of pollutant an individual is exposed to, the level of exposure, the person’s health and inherent genes. While air pollution is a very grave problem that cannot be solved in one day, little contributions to making the environment green and keeping oneself healthy can be done by not smoking, cleaning the surroundings at a regular basis and limiting the individual waste production by recycling can help in the lessening of air pollution.