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Atmospheric pollutants




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Air pollution: The Clean Air Act of
‡ Us Clean Air Act of 1970 regulated the seven
most harmful atmospheric pollutants:
„  ± corrosive gas, reacts with water vapor to
form H2SO4, source coal combustion and oil
and gas purification, second to smoking as
cause of air pollution related health problems
  ± highly toxic, colorless, odorless, source
incomplete burning of fossil fuel or biomass,
anaerobic decomposition of organic material
Air pollution: The Clean Air Act of
  ± aerosolized particles of
soot, ash, dust, smoke, pollen, spores, etc.
the most visible form of air pollution.
Cause of severe lung damage (smoke,
asbestos), emphysema. Dust storms are a
source of particles world wide
 ± CO2, CO, CH4, methane
from gas drilling, decomposition, animals,
wetlands. Toxic, flammable
Air pollution: The Clean Air Act of
i     ± highly reactive gases
formed when nitrogen in air or fuel is
heated above 650C in the presence of
oxygen. Also formed when bacteria
oxidize nitrogen compounds. NO2 gives
pollution reddish haze, react with water to
form nitric acid. Fertilizers add N to
Air pollution: The Clean Air Act of

  ± products of
reactions driven by solar energy.
Examples: O + O2 make O3 ozone; ozone
is a strong oxidant and damages paint,
plastics, vegetation
   ± source mining and manufacturing,
metabolic poison and neurotoxin, leaded
ßhat is the atmosphere really made of?

‡ N2 ± 78%, O2 ± 21%, Ar ± 0.9%, CO2 ± 0.04%

‡ ßater vapor 0-4%, 40 trace gases (ozone, He,
H, SO2, etc.)
‡ Aerosols ± solid and liquid particles ± pollen,
dust, water vapor.

: olcano produces sulphur dioxide






· cars burn petrol or diesel

· power stations burn coal
· factories burn heavy oil
1. Carbon monoxide and carbon

4 à 


4 à  


‡ In urban areas, CO is produced almost
entirely (90%) from road traffic
‡ CO at levels found in ambient air may
reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of
the blood.
‡ Low conc.Ädizzy, headache and
‡ High conc.Ä unconsciousness and death
2.Unburnt hydrocarbons
Two main groups of hydrocarbons :

åvolatile organic compounds ( OCs)

åpolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

OCs : å released in vehicle exhaust gases

å emitted by the evaporation

of solvents and motor fuels.

Effect: `cause cancer

`formation of smog (smoke + fog)
3. Sulphur dioxide

Sulphur dioxide is a corrosive acid


Source : power stations burning

fossil fuels which contain

‡ combines with water vapour in the atmosphere to
produce acid rain.
2  2 

‡ damage and destruction of vegetation and in the

degradation of soils, building materials and
‡ SO2 in ambient air is associated with asthma and
chronic bronchitis
‡ SO2 emissions effect air quality in both rural and
urban areas
‡ Low conc. : respiratory tracts and lung diseases
‡ High conc. : cancer and death
4.oxides of nitrogen
Nitrogen oxides
:formed during  
  combustion processes from
the oxidation of nitrogen in the air or fuel.
sources: power stations, heating plants and industrial processes.

The principal source of nitrogen oxides :

- nitric oxide (NO)
- nitrogen dioxide (NO2)



Vå V
Vå V

‡ Irritation of respiratory tracts and lungs
4 Exacerbate asthma
4 Increase susceptibility to infections

4 In the presence of sunlight ,

it reacts with hydrocarbons to produce
photochemical pollutants such as ozone.

4Nitrogen oxides have a lifetime of approximately 1

day with respect to conversion to nitric acid.

4 Nitric acid is in turn removed from the atmosphere

by direct deposition to the ground, or transfer to
aqueous droplets (e.g. cloud or rainwater), thereby
contributing to acid deposition.
Air pollution effects on plants
‡ Ozone ± interferes with ability to make
glucose, more sensitive than humans
‡ CO ± discolors leaves, interferes with
‡ SOx and NOx ± make acid rain, tissue death,
bleaches plants
‡ Particulate ± covers leaves, interferes with
gas exchange and photosynthesis
‡ Synergistic ± SO2 and O3 in many crops
Pollution Injuries

Sunlight acts on air pollutants

( e.g. carbon monoxide, nitrogen
oxides, hydrocarbons)

· form a new substance called

Photochemical smog
‡ Irritate the eyes
‡ dangerous to people with breathing and
heart problems
‡ poisonous to plants
‡ damages rubber, paint and other materials
6. Lead compounds and Heavy Metals













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Air pollution effects
‡ An estimated 5-6 million people die yearly due
to air pollution
‡ Bronchitis, asthma, emphysema and chronic
respiratory diseases are caused by pollutants
obstructing or breaking down lung tissues
The Human Respiratory System
Normal and Emphysemic lungs
Coal ßorkers¶ Pneumoconiosis

:the fraction of particulate in air of very small
size <10
: removed relatively efficiently from the air by
: primary ( emitted directly into the atmosphere)
: secondary (formed or modified in the
atmosphere from condensation and growth).
The atmospheric lifetime of particulate matter
:as long as 10 days for particles of about 1mm in diameter
‡ creating dirt, odour and visibility problems
‡health effects :risk of heart and lung disease
‡carry surface-absorbed carcinogenic compounds into
the lungs
‡smaller particle fraction PM2.5 capable of penetrating
deepest into the lungs
How Does PM Cause Health
Several theories have been advanced as to the mechanism of action. It is
likely that more than one mechanism is involved in causing PM-related
health effects. Theories include the following:

„ #  irritation 4. PM causes "   of

    lung tissue, resulting in the

 0 release of chemicals that
impact heart function;
   susceptibility to
viral and bacterial pathogens 5. PM causes

   that results in clots
"      that can cause heart attacks.
 #aggravates the severity
of chronic lung diseases

8. Ozone (O3)


:Ê Ê Ê Ê


 Ê  Ê
Ê ÊÊ  
‡ persist for several days and be transported over
long distances.
‡ irritate the eyes
‡ air passages causing breathing difficulties
‡ increase susceptibility to infection
‡ is a highly reactive chemical, capable of attacking
surfaces, fabrics and rubber materials
‡ toxic to some crops, vegetation and trees.
Benzene : is an aromatic OC.
: is a minor constituent of petrol
( about 2% by volume)

Main sources :
refining, distribution and combustion of



10. 1,3-butadiene
„%   : &'"   






potent, human  


„„ &#'&


: produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels

: comprise a complex range of chemicals

Compounds in this category include:

PAHs (PolyAromatic Hydrocarbons)
PCBs (PolyChlorinated Biphenyls)
Effect: carcinogenic.
‡ Ozone depletion
‡ The greenhouse effect
‡ Acid rain
The "ozone layer" is a region of relatively
high ozone concentration (at about 25 km
altitude) in the stratosphere, which is a
layer of the atmosphere between 15 and
50 km
„  " 
‡ stable, nonflammable, low in toxicity, inexpensive to produce
‡uses as refrigerants, solvents, foam blowing agents,etc.
e.g. methyl chloroform(solvent)
carbon tetrachloride( an industrial chemical)
‡effective fire extinguishing agents
‡effective produce and soil fumigant
‡have long atmospheric lifetimes transported by winds into
the stratosphere
‡ release chlorine or bromine when break down
‡ damage the protective ozone layer
 strong U radiation breaks down CFC
 CFC molecule releases atomic chlorine
 one chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone
Example of ozone depletion : the annual ozone "hole" over Antarctica

ozone levels å å levels of U B reaching the Earth's surface å


‡ U B causes nonmelanoma skin cancer and plays a major role in
malignant melanoma development.
‡U B harms some crops, plastics and other materials, and certain types
of marine life.


‡Sunlight - major energy source for both making and destroying
stratospheric ozone
‡ Up to 98% of the sun's high-energy ultraviolet light(U -B and U -C)
are absorbed by the destruction and formation of atmospheric ozone
Halogen catalysis of ozone
Halogens : a chemical family containing
fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine
: catalyze ozone breakdown

Halocarbon : carbon compound containing


NO, NO2 and OH radicles

: catalysts in ozone degredation in the troposphere and
lower stratosphere
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‡Excessive production of CO2

‡Burning a great amount of fossil fuel
forests are cleared in a great rate

‡Energy from the sun falls on the earth and
warms it up
the earth radiates some of the heat energy back
to the space
‡CO2 absorbs some of the heat energy and
prevents it escaping from the earth atmosphere
the temperature of earth increase
‡ Tones of polar ice melts and flow into the
oceans. The level of the oceans would rise.
‡ Low-lying areas of land would be flooded
‡ cause severe drought in some countries
Methods to reduce the greenhouse effect

‡ Stop cutting down forests

‡ start new plantation
‡ stop to use or use less fossil fuel
‡ use alternative energy source such as solar
Acid deposition
Cause :
emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides

‡use of coal in the production of electricity
‡base-metal smelting
‡fuel combustion in vehicles
Formation of Acids in the Atmosphere
Converting NOx and SO2 to Acids


SO2(g)+H2O(l) å H2SO3(aq) sulphurous acid
2SO2(g)+O2(g)+2H2O(l) å 2H2SO4(aq) sulphuric acid

†S(I )] å †SO2(aq)] + †HSO3-] + †SO3 2-]
This dissociation occurs by a two-fold process:
1) SO2 (aq) å H+ + HSO3-
2) HSO3- (aq) å H+ + SO3 2-
Gas Phase
2NO2(g)+H2O(l) å HNO2(aq)+HNO3(aq) nitrous acid
and nitric acid

Aqueous Phase
1. 2NO2(g) + H2O(l) å 2H+ + NO3- + NO2-
2. NO(g) + NO2(g) + H2O(l) å 2H+ + 2NO2-
3. 3NO2(g) + H2O(l) å 2H+ + 2NO3- + NO(g)
pH of rainwater < 5.5
pH of normal rainwater = 5.5 to 5.7
Air pollution effects
‡ Acid precipitation affects aquatic ecosystems,
forests, and buildings
‡ H+ from acid rain increases the leaching rate of
nutrients in the soil
‡ - damage to limestone or marble
‡ CaCO+2H+ å H2O +CO2


‡ - damage the plants, change the pH of soil
‡ - increase the corrosion rate of metals
Air pollution ± acid rain
'))'& ' &,
·Basic forms of food die off.
e.g. Mayflies and stoneflies are
important food sources for fish. <5.0
They can't survive. ·Fish population die off.
· ery different lifeforms
·Fish cannot reproduce.
· oung have difficulty staying alive.
·More deformed adult fish due to lack
of nutrients
·Fish die of suffocation
Reducing SO2 Emissions

Before Combustion
1. Coal Cleaning removing pyritic sulfur (FeS2)
2. Burning of Low Sulfur Coals (Subbituminous coal
is of lower sulfur content than bituminous coal.)

During Combustion
1. FBC - Fluidized Bed Combustion
After Combustion

1. ßet Flue Gas Desulfurization - The wet

scrubber consists of either limestone, lime, or
sodium hydroxide.
CaCO3 + SO2 + H2O + O2 å CaSO3 + CaSO4 + CO2 + H2O

2. Dry Scrubbing - The process of dry scrubbing

involves the contact between drying gas and the
atomized liquid (alkaline based)
Reducing NOx Emissions

During Combustion
- Overfire Air

After Combustion
The catalytic reduction system - involves the injection of
ammonia gas upstream of the catalytic reaction chamber
4NO + 4NH3 + O2 å 4N2 + 6H2O
2NO2 + 4NH3 + O2 å 3N2 + 6H2O
nitrogen gas is harmless
Thank U««
Steps to preserve the Environment
‡ Plant more Trees and preserve the
Eutrophication and algal blooms
Phosphorus is the nutrient controlling the size
of freshwater blue-green algal blooms

Amount of bio-available phosphorus

(orthophosphate) å
algal bloomså
A sewage treatment plant discharge

An irrigation return drain in the lower reaches, and an

upland tributary, draining a semi-agricultural catchment
Diagram of the interactions (sedimentation / re-
suspension, uptake / release) between different
components of the aquatic environment and
‡ loss of fish and shellfish
‡Human health - eating clams, mussels, oysters or scallops contaminated
by red tide can cause severe illness and even death to humans.
‡Aerosols from red tides can produce respiratory ailments
‡long-term consequences of inhaling potent neurotoxins from algae
‡ release harmful toxins causing mass mortalities of various marine
Organic pollution
Human sewage, refuse, agricultural waste like manure of
chicken and pigs and certain industrial wastes which contain
large amount of organic matter

1. Self-purification of water:
The water is well aerated when the amount of organic pollutants is
small. They are rapidly decomposed by bacteria and fungi into simple
inorganic compound.

If the amount of organic pollutants is very heavy , it will remove all

the dissolved oxygen and self -purification of water. In the absence of
oxygen the incomplete decomposition of organic matter by anaerobic
bacteria produces many unpleasant smelling gases such as methane,
ammonia and hydrogen sulphides.
Red tides are caused by the explosive population
growth of a minute, single-celled group of algae called

1999 Hong Kong Red Tide (Unidentified species)

Millions tones of oil leak out from oil tankers.

- oil floats on water. The oil layer prevent oxygen
dissolving in the water .
- birds lose warmth quickly when there are covered
with oil
- an anionic surfactant
- sodium salt or potassium salt of long chain alkanoic acids
- COO- group
- from animal fats and vegetable oils


   .   (
- sodium salt salt of organic acids with a very long hydrocarbon chain
- SO3- or SO4- group
Common soap (hard soap) e.g. sodium stearate
CH3-(CH2)16-COO- Na+

Soft soap &liquid soap e.g. potassium stearate

CH3-(CH2)16-COO- K+

sodium lauryl sulphate in shampoo (soapless detergent)

CH3-(CH2) 11-O-SO3-Na+

sodium lauryl benzenesulphonate(an alkylbenzenesulphonate)

(soapless detergent) in washing powder & liquid detergent
CH3-(CH2) 11 -C6H4- SO3-Na+
1.Forms insoluble scum with
Ca 2+ &Mg 2+ of hard water

2.forms insoluble long chain

alkanoic acid
2CH3(CH2)16COO-(ag) å
Affect of soapless detergent
‡Health problems- cause skin
allergies e.g.pH > 9 or < 5
‡Branched hydrophobic chain are
‡Ecological disturbance
-formation of foams in rivers
-prevent the breathing of aquatic lives
kills aquatic lives
‡Phosphate additives(water softener)
speed up the growth of algae
Pesticides - poisonous chemicals deliberately sprayed
to kill a particular organism (e.g. herbicides,
fungicides and insecticides)


High temperature
- will raise the metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
of aquatic organisms
- decrease the oxygen solubility in water and the
resulting deoxygenation may seriously affect the
aquatic organisms.