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Air Quality, Pollution and Control

Pure air is described as a mixture of the following gases:
78.0% N2, 20.1% O2, 0.9% Ar, 0.03% CO2, 0.002% Ne, 0.005% He plus other gases. Such pure air does not exist but it serves
as a reference for clean air.
1) Troposphere (contains more than 80% air)
2) Stratosphere (contains 90% ozone)
3) Mesosphere
4) Thermosphere



a) Dust (100µ) – solid particles created by the breakup of larger masses through processing or handling of materials such
as coal, ash, cement, grains by crushing or grinding.
- direct offspring of a parent material undergoing mechanical operation (sawdust from wood works)
- entrained materials used in mechanical operations (sand blasting)
- natural phenomena (volcanic eruption)
b) Fume (0.03 – 0.3µ) – a solid particle frequently a metallic oxide formed by the condensation of vapors by sublimation,
distillation, calcinations, or chemical reaction processes.
ex. Zinc and lead oxides from oxidation and condensation
c) Mist (0.5 – 3.0µ) – an entrained liquid particle formed by the condensation of a vapor, dispersion of a liquid (as foaming
or splashing) and by chemical reaction (formation of sulfuric acid mists)
- Mist is also called fog when its concentration is high enough to obscure visibility.
d) Smoke (0.05 – 1.0µ) – entrained solid particles formed as a result of incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials
(wood, coal, tobacco, other combustibles)
e) Spray (10 – 1000µ) – a liquid particle formed by the atomization of a parent liquid, settles out by gravity
f) Fly ash – consists of finely divided, non – combustible particles contained in flue gases arising from combustion of coal
and other combustibles.

a) Measurement of Total Suspended Particulates (TSP)
- High – volume sampler is used which operates like a vacuum cleaner by simply forcing more than 2000 m 3 of
air through a filter for 24 hours
- Analysis is gravimetric and the air flow is measured by small flow meter (calibrated in ft 3/min)
b) Measurement of Respirable Particulates (particulates < 0.3µ)
- Measurement done in relation to health
c) Measurement of PM10 : Particulate Matter less than 10 microns
- A measure used in ambient air quality standards


Gaseous pollutants include substances that are gases at normal temperature and pressure as well as vapors of substances
that are liquid or solid at normal T and P.
• The following are some gaseous air pollutants: SO2, SO3, H2S, N2O, NO2, CO, CO2, O3, HC’s, CH4, CFC
• Measurement: use of bubbler in combination with colorimeter of other spectrophotometers
a) SO2 – colorless gas, intense choking odor, highly soluble in water to form H 2SO3. Can damage property, health and
b) SO3 – soluble in water to form H2SO4, highly corrosive
c) H2S – has a rotten egg odor at low concentrations and odorless at high concentrations, highly poisonous
d) N2O – colorless gas, used as carrier gas in aerosol bottles, relatively inert, not produced in combustion
e) NO – colorless gas produced during high temperature – high pressure combustion, oxidizes to NO2
f) NO2 – brown to orange gas, major component in the formation of photochemical smog
g) CO – colorless and odorless gas, product of incomplete combustion, poisonous
h) CO2 – colorless and odorless gas, formed during complete combustion, greenhouse gas
i) O3 – highly reactive, can damage vegetation and property, produced mainly during the formation of photochemical smog
Air Quality, Pollution and Control
j) HC’s CXHY – some are emitted from automobiles and industries, others are formed in the atmosphere
k) CH4 – highly combustible, odorless, greenhouse gas
l) CFC (cholorofluorocarbons) – non-reactive, with excellent thermal properties, depletes ozone layer

Air Pollutants are also classified as:

a) Primary Air Pollutants
• Materials released directly into the atmosphere in their unmodified forms and in sufficient quantities to pose health risk.
Among them are CO, HC’s, particulates, SO 2, NO and NO2.
b) Secondary Air Pollutants
• Products from the interaction of the primary air pollutants with one another in the presence of an energy source.
*Photochemical smog is a mixture of pollutants resulting from the interaction of NO & NO2 w/ ultraviolet light.
• Comes from chemical reactions

Photochemical Smog
Two Most Destructive Formed:
1) Ozone, O3 – destroys chlorophyll and injures the lung tissue, can damage rubber such as tires.
2) Peroxyacetylnitrates – eye irritants. These are excellent oxidizing agents, they react readily with many other compounds
causing destructive damage.
Other Classification of Air Pollutants
a) Criteria Pollutants – emissions to the urban air traditionally sees as polluting: NOx, CO, SOx, PM10, VOC, HC, O3, Pb
b) Non - criteria Pollutants – pollutants whose emissions are set
C6H6, C7H8, CS2, VC, PAH (polynuclear aromatic HC’s), Arsenic, Asbestos, TCDD (2,3,7,7 tetrachloro – dibenzon – p – dioxin)


I. Natural Processes
• Particulates from pollen grains, fungus spores, smoke and dust particles from forest fires, ash from volcanic eruption,
natural breakdown of CH4 into CO, HC’s in the form of terpenes from pine trees, H 2S and CH4 from anaerobic decomposition
of organic matter, NOx from fixation of atmospheric nitrogen
II. Man – made Pollutants – classified as:
a) Stationary Combustion
- Comes from residential, commercial, or industrial power and heating, burning of coal or oil fuels
b) Mobile Transportation
- Motor vehicles, aircraft, railroads, ships, handling or evaporation of gasoline
c) Industrial Process
- Chemical, metallurgical, pulp and paper industries, petroleum refineries
d) Solid waste Disposal
- Household/commercial refuse, coal refuse etc.


1) Reduce in visibility – particulates reduce visibility both by adsorbing the light and by scattering the light
2) Causes allergies (aeroallergens) – airborne substances cause allergies from sources such as pollens and spores, common to
asthmatic people
3) Global warming – CH4, N2O and CO2, greenhouse gases cause heating of the earth’s surface
4) Damage to plants animals and other living things
• Acid rain may result to acidic surface waters which may not be able to sustain marine life, fishes and marine plants. Acid
rain also destroys forests. Acid causes abnormal bone development in fishes causing their death.
5) Ozone depletion – destruction of the ozone layer (which protects us from UV rays) because of the use of CFC’s that destroy
the ozone layer, thus potential effect on the incidence of skin cancer, Radiation from space is less filtered causing skin
6) Damage to non – living things - particulate matter can damage materials by soiling clothing and textiles, corroding metals.
Acid rain is corrosive to galvanized iron, materials for roofs, even zinc and steel materials, discolors and destroys painted
surfaces; ozone can also damage rubber in automobile tires.
7) Causes Health problems – affects especially the respiratory system; diseases and illnesses such as lung cancer, asthma and
other respiratory diseases; emphysema; irritates eyes (O3) or skin (acids); blood hemoglobin has greater affinity to CO than
oxygen thus hemoglobin to carry oxygen is decreased and may cause death by Asphyxiation; H 2S causes nausea, nervous
breakdown and is also detrimental at high concentrations.
Air Quality, Pollution and Control
• Indoor air quality is important to human health simply because we spend so much time indoors and the quality of the air
we breathe is not monitored.
• Indoor air may contain: asbestos from fireproofing and vinyl floors; CO from smoking, space heaters, stoves; formaldehyde
from carpets, ceiling tiles and paneling; particulates from smoking, fireplaces, dusting; nitrogen oxides from kerosene
stoves, gas stoves; ozone from photocopying machines; radon diffused from soil; etc


1) Decrease pollutant source – modify behaviors (no smoking)
2) Change of consumer products of lower emission rates of toxic compounds
3) Increase rate of pollutant removal – increase ventilation, use filters and air conditioning units
Air Pollution Legislation (RA 8749) Clean Air Act
• Set emission and ambient air quality limits.


Air Pollutant Emission and Control
1) Control Emissions
2) Understand process (transport, transformation and removal)
3) Monitor concentration
4) Protection from effects

1) Settling chambers – consist of wide places in the exhaust flue where large particles can settle out, usually with baffle to
slow the emission stream. Only particulates > 100 µm can be removed.

2) Cyclones – most effective means of controlling particulates. The dirty air is blasted into a conical cylinder but off center line.
This creates a violent swirl within the cone and the heavy solids migrate to the wall of the cylinder where they slow down
due to friction, slide down the cone and finally exit at the bottom. The clean air is in the middle of the cylinder and exits out
at the top.

3) Bag filters (fabric filters) – operate like the common vacuum cleaner. They are used to collect dust then removed from the
bag. This filter can remove submicron sizes of particulates but are sensitive to high temperature and humidity. Filter bags
are widely used in many industrial applications. The dust particles adhere to the fabric due to entrapment and surface
Air Quality, Pollution and Control

4) Spray Tower or scrubber – effective for removing large particulates. Drawbacks include producing visible plume, albeit only
water vapor. The waste is converted to liquid which needs treatment.

5) Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP) – widely used in power plants, because power is readily available. The particulates are first
charged by electrons jumping from one high – voltage electrode to the other and then migrating to the positively charge
collecting electrode. Effective in removing submicron particles


1) Wet Scrubbers – the gaseous pollutants are dissolved in water. Alternatively, a chemical may be injected which reacts with
the pollutants (usually done to remove SO 2 and SO3)

2) Adsorption – used when it is possible to bring the pollutant into contact with an adsorber like activated carbon.

3) Incineration or Flaring – used when organic pollutant can be oxidized to CO2 and water, catalytic combustion.
Air Quality, Pollution and Control
1) Change to low sulfur fuel (coal to natural gas, more expensive)
2) Desulfurize the coal
3) Tall stacks to disperse SO2
4) Flue gas desulfurization – reduce SO2 emitted by cleaning the gases coming from the combustion process

• Dispersion is the process of spreading out the emission over a large area and thereby reducing the concentration of the
specific pollutants. Dispersion is in two dimensions: horizontal or vertical. The amount of dispersion is directly related to the
stability of the air, or how much vertical air movement is taking place.


• As the air rises in the earth’s atmosphere, it experiences lower and lower pressure from the surrounding air molecules and
thus expands. This expansion lowers the temperature of the air.
• Ideally, a rising air cools at a rate of 1°C/100 m and warms at a rate of 1°C/100 m if it is coming down.
• The warming or cooling is termed the dry adiabatic lapse rate
• The adiabatic lapse rate is independent of prevailing atmospheric temperatures
• When there is moisture in the air, the lapse rate becomes the wet adiabatic lapse rate
1) Superadiabatic lapse rate – strong lapse rate
- Occurs when the atmospheric temperature drops more than 1°C/100 m
- Atmospheric conditions are unstable
- A great deal of vertical movement and turbulence are produced, and dispersion is enhanced.
2) Subadiabatic lapse rate – weak lapse rate
- Characterized by a drop of less than 1°C/100 m, stable atmospheric condition
3) Inversion – special case of a weak lapse rate
- Extreme subadiabatic condition
- A condition that has warmer air above colder air
- Stable atmospheric condition
4) Adiabatic
5) Inversion over superadiabatic