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What is minor pollutants?

Pollution is the introduction of harmful substances or products into

the environment
We will be examining 3 main parts of pollution:
Air Pollution
Water Pollution
Land Pollution
Air pollution
"Bad air qualit" and "Air qualit" redirect here! "or the obsolete medical
theor# see Bad air! "or the measure of how polluted the air is# see Air qualit
Air pollution is the introduction of particulates# biological materials# or other
harmful materials into the $arth%s atmosphere# possibl causing disease# death to
humans# damage to other living organisms such as food crops# or
the natural or built environment!
&he atmosphere is a complex natural gaseous sstem that is essential to support
life on planet $arth! 'tratospheric o(one depletion due to air pollution has long
been recogni(ed as a threat to human health as well as to the $arth%s ecosstems!
)ndoor air pollution and urban air qualit are listed as two of the world*s worst
toxic pollution problems in the +,,- Blac.smith )nstitute World%s Worst
Polluted Places report! According to the +,/0 W12 report# in +,/+ the air
pollution caused the deaths of around 3 million people worldwide
An air pollutant is a substance in the air that can have adverse effects on
humans and the ecosstem! &he substance can be solid particles# liquid droplets#
or gases! A pollutant can be of natural origin or man4made! Pollutants are
classified as primar or secondar! Primar pollutants are usuall produced
from a process# such as ash from a volcanic eruption! 2ther examples
include carbon monoxide gas from motor vehicle exhaust# or the sulfur
dioxide released from factories! 'econdar pollutants are not emitted directl!
5ather# the form in the air when primar pollutants react or interact! 6round
level o(one is a prominent example of a secondar pollutant! 'ome pollutants
ma be both primar and secondar: the are both emitted directl and formed
from other primar pollutants!
7a8or primar pollutants produced b human activit include:
Sulfur oxides (SO
) 4 particularl sulfur dioxide# a chemical compound
with the formula '2
! '2
is produced b volcanoes and in various
industrial processes! 9oal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds#
and their combustion generates sulfur dioxide! "urther oxidation of '2
usuall in the presence of a catalst such as :2
# forms 1
# and
thus acid rain! &his is one of the causes for concern over the
environmental impact of the use of these fuels as power sources!
Nitrogen oxides (NO
) - :itrogen oxides# particularl nitrogen dioxide#
are expelled from high temperature combustion# and are also produced
during thunderstorms b electric discharge! &he can be seen as a
brown ha(e dome above or a plume downwind of cities! :itrogen dioxide
is a chemical compound with the formula :2
! )t is one of several
nitrogen oxides! 2ne of the most prominent air pollutants# this reddish4
brown toxic gas has a characteristic sharp# biting odor!
Carbon monoxide (CO)- 92 is a colourless# odourless# toxic et non4
irritating gas! )t is a product b incomplete combustion of fuel such as
natural gas# coal or wood! ;ehicular exhaust is a ma8or source of carbon
Volatile organic compounds - ;29s are a well4.nown outdoor air
pollutant! &he are categori(ed as either methane <91
= or non4methane
<:7;29s=! 7ethane is an extremel efficient greenhouse gas which
contributes to enhanced global warming! 2ther hdrocarbon ;29s are
also significant greenhouse gases because of their role in creating o(one
and prolonging the life of methane in the atmosphere! &his effect varies
depending on local air qualit! &he aromatic :7;29s ben(ene# toluene
and xlene are suspected carcinogens and ma lead to leu.emia with
prolonged exposure! /#34butadiene is another dangerous compound often
associated with industrial use!
Particulates# alternativel referred to as particulate matter <P7=#
atmospheric particulate matter# or fine particles# are tin particles of solid
or liquid suspended in a gas! )n contrast# aerosol refers to combined
particles and gas! 'ome particulates occur naturall# originating from
volcanoes# dust storms# forest and grassland fires# living vegetation# and
sea spra! 1uman activities# such as the burning of fossil fuels in
vehicles# power plants and various industrial processes also generate
significant amounts of aerosols! Averaged worldwide# anthropogenic
aerosols those made b human activities currentl account for
approximatel /, percent of our atmosphere! )ncreased levels of fine
particles in the air are lin.ed to health ha(ards such as heart
disease# altered lung function and lung cancer!
Persistent free radicals connected to airborne fine particles are lin.ed to
cardiopulmonar disease!
&oxic metals# such as lead and mercur# especiall their compounds!
Chlorofluorocarbons (CCs) 4 harmful to the o(one laer> emitted from
products currentl banned from use
&hese are gases which are released from air conditioners# refrigerators#
aerosol spras# etc! 9"9%s on being released into the air rises
to stratosphere! 1ere the come in contact with other gases and damage
the o(one laer! &his allows harmful ultraviolet ras to reach the earth%s
surface! &his can lead to cancer# disease to ee and can even cause
damage to plants!
Ammonia (N!
) 4 emitted from agricultural processes! Ammonia is a
compound with the formula :1
! )t is normall encountered as a gas with
a characteristic pungent odor! Ammonia contributes significantl to the
nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms b serving as a precursor to
foodstuffs and fertili(ers! Ammonia# either directl or indirectl# is also a
building bloc. for the snthesis of man pharmaceuticals! Although in
wide use# ammonia is both caustic and ha(ardous!
2dors such as from garbage# sewage# and industrial processes
#adioacti$e pollutants 4 produced b nuclear explosions# nuclear events#
war explosives# and natural processes such as the radioactive
deca of radon!
Pollution in the s. of Athens# 6reece
'econdar pollutants include:
Particulates created from gaseous primar pollutants and compounds in
photochemical smog! 'mog is a .ind of air pollution! 9lassic smog
results from large amounts of coal burning in an area caused b a mixture
of smo.e and sulfur dioxide! 7odern smog does not usuall come from
coal but from vehicular and industrial emissions that are acted on in the
atmosphere b ultraviolet light from the sun to form secondar pollutants
that also combine with the primar emissions to form photochemical
6round level o(one <2
= formed from :2
and ;29s! 2(one <2
= is a
.e constituent of the troposphere! )t is also an important constituent of
certain regions of the stratosphere commonl .nown as the 2(one laer!
Photochemical and chemical reactions involving it drive man of the
chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere b da and b night! At
abnormall high concentrations brought about b human activities
<largel the combustion of fossil fuel=# it is a pollutant# and a constituent
of smog!
Peroxacetl nitrate <PA:= 4 similarl formed from :2
and ;29s!
%inor air pollutants include&
A large number of minor ha(ardous air pollutants! 'ome of these are
regulated in ?'A under the 9lean Air Act and in $urope under the Air
"ramewor. @irective
A variet of persistent organic pollutants# which can attach to particulates
Persistent organic pollutants <P2Ps= are organic compounds that are resistant to
environmental degradation through chemical# biological# and photoltic
processes! Because of this# the have been observed to persist in the
environment# to be capable of long4range transport# bio4accumulate in human
and animal tissue# bio4magnif in food chains# and to have potential significant
impacts on human health and the environment!
&here are various locations# activities or factors which are responsible for
releasing pollutants into the atmosphere! &hese sources can be classified into
two ma8or categories!
Anthropogenic (man-made) sources&
&hese are mostl related to the burning of multiple tpes of fuel!
Stationar' Sources include smo.e stac.s of power plants# manufacturing
facilities <factories= and waste incinerators# as well as furnaces and other
tpes of fuel4burning heating devices! )n developing and poor countries#
traditional biomass burning is the ma8or source of air pollutants> traditional
biomass includes wood# crop waste and dung!
%obile Sources include motor vehicles# marine vessels# and aircraft!
Chemicals(# dust and controlled burn practices in agriculture and forest
management%! 9ontrolled or prescribed burning is a technique sometimes
used in forest management# farming# prairie restoration or greenhouse gas
abatement! "ire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecolog and
controlled fire can be a tool for foresters! 9ontrolled burning stimulates the
germination of some desirable forest trees# thus renewing the forest!
umes from paint# hair spra# varnish# aerosol spras and other solvents
Waste deposition in landfills# which generate methane! 7ethane is highl
flammable and ma form explosive mixtures with air! 7ethane is also
an asphxiant and ma displace oxgen in an enclosed space! Asphxia or
suffocation ma result if the oxgen concentration is reduced to below
/B!AC b displacement!
%ilitar' resources# such as nuclear weapons# toxic gases# germ
warfare and roc.etr
Natural sources&
@ust from natural sources# usuall large areas of land with few or no
7ethane# emitted b the digestion of food b animals# for example cattle
5adon gas from radioactive deca within the $arth%s crust! 5adon is a
colorless# odorless# naturall occurring# radioactive noble gas that is
formed from the deca of radium! )t is considered to be a health ha(ard!
5adon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings# especiall in
confined areas such as the basement and it is the second most frequent
cause of lung cancer# after cigarette!
'mo.e and carbon monoxide from wildfires
;egetation# in some regions# emits environmentall significant amounts of
;29s on warmer das! &hese ;29s react with primar anthropogenic
pollutants specificall# :2
# '2
# and anthropogenic organic carbon
compounds to produce a seasonal ha(e of secondar pollutants!
;olcanic activit# which produces sulfur# chlorine# and ash particulates
)mission factors
Air pollutant emission factors are representative values that people attempt to
relate the quantit of a pollutant released to the ambient air with an activit
associated with the release of that pollutant! &hese factors are usuall expressed
as the weight of pollutant divided b a unit weight# volume# distance# or
duration of the activit emitting the pollutant <e!g!# .ilograms of particulate
emitted per tonne of coal burned=! 'uch factors facilitate estimation of
emissions from various sources of air pollution! )n most cases# these factors are
simpl averages of all available data of acceptable qualit# and are generall
assumed to be representative of long4term averages!
&here are /+ compounds in the list of P2Ps! @ioxins and furans are two of them
and are intentionall created b combustion of organics# li.e open burning of
plastics! &he P2Ps are also endocrine disruptors and can mutate the human
&he ?nited 'tates $nvironmental Protection Agenc has published a
compilation of air pollutant emission factors for a multitude of industrial
sources! &he ?nited Eingdom# Australia# 9anada and man other countries
have published similar compilations# as well as the $uropean $nvironment
Air pollution exposure
Air pollution ris. is a function of the ha(ard of the pollutant and the exposure to
that pollutant! Air pollution exposure can be expressed for an individual# for
certain groups <e!g! neighborhoods or children living in a count=# or for entire
populations! "or example# one ma want to calculate the exposure to a
ha(ardous air pollutant for a geographic area# which includes the various
microenvironments and age groups! &his can be calculated as an inhalation
exposure! &his would account for dail exposure in various settings <e!g!
different indoor micro4environments and outdoor locations=! &he exposure
needs to include different age and other demographic groups# especiall infants#
children# pregnant women and other sensitive sub4populaitons! &he exposure to
an air pollutant must integrate the concentrations of the air pollutant with
respect to the time spent in each setting and the respective inhalation rates for
each subgroup for each specific time that the subgroup is in the setting and
engaged in particular activities <plaing# reading# etc!=! "or
example# a small child%s inhalation rate will be less than that of an adult! A child
engaged in vigorous exercise will have a higher respiration rate than the same
child in a sedentar activit! &he dail exposure# then# needs to reflect the time
spent in each micro4environmental setting and the tpe of activities in these
settings! &he air pollutant concentration in each micro4activitF micro
environmental setting is summed to indicate the exposure!
Indoor air quality (IAQ
A lac. of ventilation indoors concentrates air pollution where people often
spend the ma8orit of their time! 5adon <5n= gas# a carcinogen# is exuded from
the $arth in certain locations and trapped inside houses! Building materials
including carpeting and plwood emit formaldehde <1
92= gas! Paint and
solvents give off volatile organic compounds <;29s= as the dr! Lead paint
can degenerate into dust and be inhaled! )ntentional air pollution is introduced
with the use of air fresheners# incense# and other scented items! 9ontrolled
wood fires in stoves and fireplaces can add significant amounts of smo.e
particulates into the air# inside and out! )ndoor pollution fatalities ma be caused
b using pesticides and other chemical spras indoors without proper
9arbon monoxide <92= poisoning and fatalities are often caused b fault vents
and chimnes# or b the burning of charcoal indoors! 9hronic carbon monoxide
poisoning can result even from poorl ad8usted pilot lights! &raps are built into
all domestic plumbing to .eep sewer gas and hdrogen sulfide# out of interiors!
9lothing emit4stetrachloro4ethlene# or other dr cleaning fluids# for das
after dr cleaning!
&hough its use has now been banned in man countries# the extensive use
of asbestos in industrial and domestic environments in the past has left a
potentiall ver dangerous material in man localities! Asbestosis is a chronic
inflammator medical condition affecting the tissue of the lungs! )t occurs after
long4term# heav exposure to asbestos from asbestos4containing materials in
structures! 'ufferers have severe dspnea <shortness of breath= and are at an
increased ris. regarding several different tpes of lung cancer! As clear
explanations are not alwas stressed in non4technical literature# care should be
ta.en to distinguish between several forms of relevant diseases! According to
the World 1ealth 2rganisation <W12=# these ma defined as> asbestosis# lung
cancer# and Peritoneal 7esothelioma <generall a ver rare form of cancer#
when more widespread it is almost alwas associated with prolonged exposure
to asbestos=!
Biological sources of air pollution are also found indoors# as gases and airborne
particulates! Pets produce dander# people produce dust from minute
and decomposed hair# dust mites in bedding# carpeting and furniture produce
en(mes and micrometre4si(ed fecal droppings# inhabitants emit
methane# mold forms in walls and generates mcotoxins and spores#air
conditioning sstems can incubate Legionnaires% disease and mold#
and houseplants# soil and surrounding gardens can produce pollen# dust# and
mold! )ndoors# the lac. of air circulation allows these airborne pollutants to
accumulate more than the would otherwise occur in nature!
Health effects
Air pollution is a significant ris. factor for a number of health conditions
including respirator infections# heart disease# 92P@# stro.e and lung
cancer! &he health effects caused b air pollution ma include difficult in
breathing# whee(ing# coughing# asthma and worsening of existing respirator
and cardiac conditions! &hese effects can result in increased medication use#
increased doctor or emergenc room visits# more hospital admissions and
premature death! &he human health effects of poor air qualit are far reaching#
but principall affect the bod%s respirator sstem and the cardiovascular
sstem! )ndividual reactions to air pollutants depend on the tpe of pollutant a
person is exposed to# the degree of exposure# the individual%s health status and
genetics! &he most common sources of air pollution include particulates# o(one#
nitrogen dioxide# and sulfur dioxide! 9hildren aged less than five ears that live
in developing countries are the most vulnerable population in terms of total
deaths attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution!
&he World 1ealth 2rgani(ation states that 3 million people die each ear from
causes directl attributable to air pollution# with 3!3 million of these deaths
attributable to indoor air pollution and +!D million outdoor air pollution! )ndia
has the highest death rate due to air pollution! )n @ecember +,/3 air pollution
was .illing estimated to .ill A,,#,,, people in 9hina each ear! &here is a
correlation between pneumonia related deaths and air pollution from motor
Air pollution is estimated to reduce life expectanc b almost nine months
across the $uropean ?nion! 9auses of deaths include heart disease#
92P@# lung cancer# and lung infections!
&he ?' $PA estimates that a proposed set of changes in diesel
engine technolog <&ier += could result in /+#,,, fewer premature mortalities#
/A#,,, fewer heart attac.s# D#,,, fewer emergenc room visits b children with
asthma# and -#B,, fewer respirator4related hospital admissions each ear in the
?nited 'tates!
&he ?' $PA estimates allowing a ground4level o(one concentration of DA parts
per billion# would avert /#3,, to A#/,, premature deaths nationwide in +,+,
compared with the current 3A4ppb standard! &he agenc pro8ects the stricter
standard would also prevent an additional +D#,,, cases of aggravated asthma#
and more than a million cases of missed wor. or school!
A new economic stud of the health impacts and associated costs of air
pollution in the Los Angeles Basin and 'an Goaquin ;alle of 'outhern
9alifornia shows that more than 3-,, people die prematurel <approximatel /0
ears earlier than normal= each ear because air pollution levels violate federal
standards! &he number of annual premature deaths is considerabl higher than
the fatalities related to auto collisions in the same area# which average fewer
than +#,,, per ear!
@iesel exhaust <@$= is a ma8or contributor to combustion derived particulate
matter air pollution! )n several human experimental studies# using a well
validated exposure chamber setup# @$ has been lin.ed to acute vascular
dsfunction and increased thrombus formation! &his serves as a plausible
mechanistic lin. between the previousl described association between
particulates air pollution and increased cardiovascular morbidit and mortalit!
Cardio$ascular disease
A +,,3 review of evidence found ambient air pollution exposure is a ris. factor
correlating with increased total mortalit from cardiovascular events <range:
/+C to /0C per a /, microgFm
Air pollution is also emerging as a ris. factor for stro.e# particularl in
developing countries where pollutant levels are highest! A +,,3 stud found
that in women air pollution is associated not with hemorrhagic but with
ischemic stro.e! Air pollution was also found to be associated with increased
incidence and mortalit from coronar stro.e in a cohort stud in
+,//! Associations are believed to be causal and effects ma be mediated b
vasoconstriction# low4grade inflammation or autonomic nervous sstem
imbalance or other mechanisms!

C'stic fibrosis
A stud from around the ears of /BBB to +,,,# b the ?niversit of
Washington# showed that patients near and around particulates air pollution had
an increased ris. of pulmonar exacerbations and decrease in lung
function! Patients were examined before the stud for amounts of specific
pollutants li.e Pseudomonas aerations or Bur.holderia cenocepacia as well as
their socioeconomic standing! Participants involved in the stud were located in
the ?nited 'tates in close proximit to an $nvironmental Protection
Agenc! @uring the time of the stud //3 deaths were associated with air
pollution! 7an patients in the stud lived in or near large metropolitan areas in
order to be close to medical help! &hese same patients had higher level of
pollutants found in their sstem because of more emissions in larger cities! As
cstic fibrosis patients alread suffer from decreased lung function# everda
pollutants such as smo.e# emissions from automobiles# tobacco smo.e and
improper use of indoor heating devices could further compromise lung function!