Air pollution is one of the most serious problems in the world. It refers to the contamination of the atmosphere by harmful chemicals or biological materials. According to the World’s Worst Polluted Places by Blacksmith Institute in 2008, two of the worst pollution problems in the world are urban air quality and indoor air pollution. To solve the problem of air pollution, it’s necessary to understand the issues and look for ways to counter it. Air Pollution Statistics
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects air pollution statistics.
It’s important to study these statistics because they show how polluted the air has become in various places around the country. Generally, the statistics reflect the levels of six pollutants, namely, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, and particulate matter. There are maximum allowable limits for each pollutant. * Air Quality Index: Provides information on the index for daily reporting of air quality. * Air Trends: The EPA offers statistics on air quality trends.
* Air Quality & Emissions: A collection of air data for the State of California. * Air Pollution Statistics: Provides statistics on the problem of air pollution in countries around the world. * Canada: Offers information on air quality indicators in Canada. * Air Quality Data: Good place to find air quality data for various states. Health Effects
Air pollution can cause long-term and short-term health effects. It’s found that the elderly and young children are more affected by air pollution. Short-term health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, allergic reactions, and upper respiratory infections. Some long-term health effects are lung cancer, brain damage, liver damage, kidney damage, heart disease, and respiratory disease. * Health: Read about how air pollution can affect your health. * Air Pollution: A great resource on the health effects of air pollution. * On Children: Explains how air pollution has such an impact of children’s health. * Health Effects: Excellent overview of the health effects of air pollution. * Dirty Air: Highlights some of the common health problems caused by air pollution. * Respiratory Health: Discusses the effects of air pollution on respiratory
health. * Health & Air Pollution: Provides information on the various health effects of air pollution. Environmental Effects
Air pollution causes damage to crops, animals, forests, and bodies of water. It also contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the sun’s UV rays. Another negative effect of air pollution is the formation of acid rain, which harms trees, soils, rivers, and wildlife. Some of the other environmental effects of air pollution are haze, eutrophication, and global climate change. * Environmental Effects: An overview of the environmental effects of air pollution. * Climate Change: Discusses how air pollution has an impact on climate change. * Climate Control: A study on the effects of air pollution on climate. * Ozone: Read about ozone and ozone layer depletion in relation to air pollution. * Acid Rain: Offers great information on the subject of acid rain. * Ozone & Air Pollution: Describes how air pollution has an impact on the Earth’s ozone. Human Causes of Air Pollution
Human activities have been highlighted as the major causes of air pollution, especially in the cities. To support a larger population, there’s a need for energy production, transportation, and industries, resulting in the emission of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. A list of the human causes of air pollution includes vehicles, domestic smoke and heating, aircraft pollution, outdoor fires, and incineration of waste. To reduce the problems of air pollution, people should be more aware of their actions in these areas. * Human Activity: An overview of how human activity affects air pollution. * Air Toxics: A look at mercury and other air toxic emissions associated with production of electricity. * Transportation: The report focuses on how transportation can affect air quality. * Cars: Discusses the impact of cars on air pollution.
* Pollution Sources: Provides information on atmospheric structure and the sources of pollution. * Major Causes: Describes the major causes of air pollution, including human activity. Natural Causes of Air Pollution
Other than human actions, air pollution is also caused by natural events.
Biological decay and volcanoes release natural sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, affecting air quality in negative ways. Most of the ozone around the ground level is formed when chemical reactions occur in the sunlight but there’s also about 10 to 15 percent transported from the stratosphere. Other natural causes of air pollution are natural sources of particulate matters like volcanoes and dust storms, volatile organic compounds, pollen, forest fires, oceans, and forest fires. * Natural Air Pollution: Highlights the main natural causes of air pollution. * Volcanic Gases: A look at volcanic gases and the effects on the Earth. * Mt. Sakurajima: A study on the air pollution brought about by the eruption of this volcano. * Forest Fires: Explains how forest fires can affect air quality. * Ground Level Ozone: The primer explains how ground level ozone can cause air pollution. Indoor Air Pollution
The air quality around and within buildings and structures is known as indoor air quality. Indoor air quality has a direct effect on the comfort and health of occupants, whether it’s the home, office or other buildings. Some of the common pollutants of indoor air include radon, molds, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, asbestos fibers, carbon dioxide, ozone, and the burning of biomass. Proper ventilation, filtration, and the control of pollutant sources are some of the primary ways to improve indoor air quality. * Indoor Air Pollution: An overview of indoor air pollution. * Indoor Air Quality: Provides information on the IAQ.
* Indoor Air: Discusses all about indoor air pollution and what you can do to reduce it. * Publications: A list of links to various publications on indoor air quality. * Information: Offers good information on the subject of indoor air quality. Ways to Help Keep the Air Cleaner
There are some things you can do to help keep the air cleaner. Generally, it’s important to conserve energy because sources of energy like electricity, diesel, gasoline, and wood would contribute to air pollution. Rather than driving a car or riding a motorcycle, you can ride a bicycle or walk to perform errands. Try to reduce trips and use public transportation. Gas-powered garden equipment should be avoided as well as the burning of
trash, leaves, and other materials. It’s also a good idea to perform regular car maintenance and engine tune ups, making a point to replace the car’s air filter and oil on a regular basis. If everybody does the small things to reduce air pollution, the environment would benefit collectively. * Clean the Air: Offers 50 ways for keeping the air cleaner. * It All Adds Up: The site is dedicated to encouraging people to do small things to clean the air collectively. * Keeping the Air Clean: Excellent resource center to find tips and other information on how to keep the air cleaner. * Cleaner Air: Follow these steps to keep the air cleaner. * What Can You Do?: Help to stop air pollution with these tips. http://www.air-n-water.com/air-pollution.htm
Air quality data compiled by the World Health Organization shows alarming rates of dangerous particles in many cities. Photo by Ekhinos. The World Health Organization released an unprecedented compilation of air quality data last week hat shows a dangerous increase in air pollution levels. According to the data, over 2 million people die every year from indoor and outdoor air pollution, and the collected air quality levels are alarmingly threatening people’s health in many cities. According to WHO, the responsible element in air pollution are PM10 particles, pieces that are 10 micrometers or less, which can “penetrate into the lungs and may enter the bloodstream, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and acute lower respiratory infections.” The WHO air quality guidelines dictate that a maximum annual average of PM10 particles should be at 20 micrograms per cubic meter. Yet, the data indicate some cities as having already reached and surpassed that maximum annual average with an air quality measure of 300 micrograms per cubic meter—15 times the recommended WHO levels. According to the WHO, only a few cities currently meet its guidelines in air quality. WHO also states that elevated levels of fine particle pollution are common across many urban areas, and these particles originate from combustion sources, like power plants and motor vehicles.
“In both developed and developing countries, the largest contributors to urban outdoor air pollution include motor transport, small-scale manufacturers and other industries, burning of biomass and coal for cooking and heating, as well as coal-fired power plants,” the organization explains. “Residential wood and coal burning for space heating is an important contributor to air pollution, especially in rural areas during colder months.” In 2008, there were an estimated 1.34 million premature deaths due to air pollution in cities. Of these deaths, 1.09 million lives could have been saved had the WHO guidelines been met. According to the WHO, the number of deaths attributed to air pollution in cities has increased from the 2004 estimate of 1.15 million people. The organization ascribes this increase to higher concentration of air pollution and a rise in urban population. The organization also credits improved data availability and enhanced methodology with the difference in calculations. In the wake of these grueling statistics, the WHO is calling for greater awareness of health risks caused by urban air pollution and the implementation of effective policies, in addition to close monitoring of air quality levels in cities. “A reduction from an average of 70 µg/m3 of PM10 to an annual average of 20 µg/m3 of PM10 is expected to yield a 15% reduction in mortality—considered a major public health gain,” the WHO explains. “At higher levels of pollution, similar reductions would have less impact on reducing mortality, but will nevertheless still bring important health benefits.” “Solutions to outdoor air pollution problems in a city will differ depending on the relative contribution of pollution sources, its stage of development, as well as its local geography,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Interventions for Health Environments in the Department of Public Health and Environment. “The most powerful way that the information from the WHO database can be used is for a city to monitor its own trends in air pollution over time, so as to identify, improve and scale-up effective interventions.” (Read more about Dora’s research on the link between transport and health in a previous post on TheCityFix here.) http://thecityfix.com/blog/who-air-pollution-kills-more-than-2-million-people-each-year/
Why is EPA Moving to Limit Industrial Carbon Pollution?
America’s power plants are our biggest industrial polluters. Each year they pump more than two billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon pollution is causing climate change that drives dangerous heat waves and worsening smog pollution, which causes asthma attacks and other serious
respiratory illnesses. Thus climate change looms as one of our most serious public health threats; yet few people are aware of the many dangers posed by a warming planet. These include:
* Air Pollution: Warming temperatures worsen smog pollution, which triggers asthma attacks and permanently damages and reduces the function of children’s lungs. Higher smog levels even contribute to premature deaths. * Heat-related Disease and Illness: As temperatures rise, so do deaths and illnesses related to heat stress, heatstroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease. * Infectious Disease: Climate change affects patterns of diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease. Increasing temperatures and rainfall have been associated with increased occurrence and transmission of insect-borne diseases like West Nile virus. Higher temperatures can lead to more rapid development of dangerous pathogens within insect carriers and allow these diseases to expand their range into new, once cooler, regions. Approximately 173 million Americans in at least 28 states live in counties with mosquitoes that can carry dengue fever, a painful viral illness that has increased globally 30-fold in the last 50 years. * Drought: Projected temperature increases in the summer will increase the likelihood of water shortages and drought, threatening the availability of water for drinking and irrigation. Droughts harm crops, diminishing food variety, nutritional content, and availability. * Floods: Warmer air holds more moisture, so when it rains it’s more likely to pour, increasing the risk of flooding. Warmer ocean temperatures have also been linked to more powerful hurricanes and other storms. The potential health impacts are also expensive. In 2011, NRDC studied six types of climate change-related types of events in the U.S. between 2002 and 2009 — episodes of ozone air pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, outbreaks of infectious disease, river flooding, and wildfires. All are projected to increase in severity, frequency, or extent with climate change. We found that associated health costs exceeded $14 billion. That included deaths, illnesses, and more than 760,000 visits to the doctor, hospital, emergency room or other health care facilities. (These health effects were described in a paper in the national journal Health Affairs, and can be accessed here.) Find out how these serious climate-health threats impact your
community >> Climate Change Threatens Health Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council launched a powerful new ad to build public awareness of and support for tough, new safeguards against industrial carbon pollution from power plants and other clean air standards. Watch the video below and join us by telling the EPA that you support standards to reduce carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. http://www.nrdc.org/air/carbon-emissions/
Air pollution kills over two million people each year
July 21, – A study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, has estimated that around 470,000 people die each year because of human-caused increase in ozone, Xinhua reported. Human-caused outdoor air pollution may be responsible for over two million deaths worldwide – a large number of them in South Asia and East Asia – each year, US researchers have said. It also estimated that around 2.1 million deaths are caused each year by human-caused increases in fine particulate matter, tiny particles suspended in the air that can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing cancer and other respiratory disease. “Our estimates make outdoor air pollution among the most important environmental risk factors for health,” co-author of the study, Jason West, from the University of North Carolina, said in a statement. “Many of these deaths are estimated to occur in East Asia and South Asia, where population is high and air pollution is severe.” In the study, the researchers simulated the concentrations of ozone and fine particulate matter in 1850, when the industrial era began, and in the year 2000. A total of 14 models simulated levels of ozone and six models simulated levels of fine particulate matter. According to the study, the number of these deaths that can be attributed to changes in the climate since the industrial era is, however, relatively small. It estimated that a changing climate results in 1,500 deaths due to ozone and 2,200 deaths related to fine particulate matter each year. Climate change affects air quality in many ways, possibly leading to local increases or decreases in air pollution, it said. For instance, temperature and humidity can change the reaction rates which determine the formation or lifetime of a pollutant, and rainfall can determine the time that pollutants can accumulate. Higher temperatures can also increase the emissions of organic compounds from
trees, which can then react in the atmosphere to form ozone and particulate matter, said the study. “Very few studies have attempted to estimate the effects of past climate change on air quality and health. We found that the effects of past climate change are likely to be a very small component of the overall effect of air pollution,” West added. http://hromedia.com/tag/news-magazine-air-pollution-2-million-killing/
Air Quality: Important at Every Age
Two of the most common pollutants in the U.S. — ozone, sometimes called smog, and particle pollution — pose health risks for hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Are you one of them? Many of us are. If you’re very young, if you’re a senior citizen — or if you’re somewhere in between – you may be at increased risk from ozone or particle pollution exposure. That’s bad news. The good news? You can do something about it. * Children (including teenagers)are at greater risk from air pollution because their lungs are still developing, they are more likely to be active outdoors, and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Both ozone and particle pollution can prevent children’s lungs from working and developing like they should. Children are also more likely than adults to have asthma which also increase their risk. * People with asthma or another lung disease are risk from both ozone and particle pollution, which can increase symptoms like coughing and wheezing– and can lead to a trip to the doctor or hospital. * Healthy adults who are active outdoors are at risk from ozone, which can make it more difficult to breathe deeply, cause symptoms such as coughing or scratchy throat, and inflame and damage the lining of the lungs – damage that can continue even after symptoms are gone. * People with cardiovascular disease (that’s your heart and blood vessels) areat risk from particle pollution, which can contribute to heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure – and premature death. Ozone can also harm the heart. And both pollutants can increase the risk for premature death. * People in middle age and older. As we hit middle age, our risk for heart and lung diseases generally increases – and so does our risk from ozone and particle pollution. Factors that increase your risk for heart disease and stroke – like being overweight, having diabetes, or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, also may increase your risk
from particle pollution. Now for the good news: You can take steps to reduce your pollution exposure. Use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to adjust your outdoor activities so you can and reduce the amount of pollution you breathe in while still getting exercise. It’s not difficult – and your health is worth it. | http://www.epa.gov/airnow/airaware/day1.html
What causes air pollution?
Air pollution can result from both human and natural actions. Natural events that pollute the air include forest fires, volcanic eruptions, wind erosion, pollen dispersal, evaporation of organic compounds and natural radioactivity. Pollution from natural occurrences are not very often.
Human activities that result in air pollution include:
1. Emissions from industries and manufacturing activities
Have you seen a manufacturing company before? You will notice that there are long tubes (called chimneys) erected high into the air, with lots of smoke and fumes coming out of it. Waste incinerators, manufacturing industries and power plants emit high levels of carbon monoxide, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air. This happens almost everywhere that people live. Petroleum refineries also release lots of hydrocarbons into the air.
2. Burning Fossil Fuels
After the industrial age, transportation has become a key part of our lives. Cars and heavy duty trucks, trains, shipping vessels and airplanes all burn lots of fossil fuels to work. Emissions from automobile engines contain both primary and secondary pollutants. This is a major cause of pollution, and one that is very difficult to manage. This is because humans rely heavily on vehicles and engines for transporting people, good and services.
Fumes from car exhauts contain dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons and particulates. On their own, they cause great harm to people who breath them. Additionally, they react with environmental gases to create further toxic gases. Click here to see the
3. Household and Farming Chemicals
Crop dusting, fumigating homes, household cleaning products or painting supplies, over the counter insect/pest killers, fertilizer dust emit harmful chemicals into the air and cause pollution. In many case, when we use these chemicals at home or offices with no or little ventilation, we may fall ill if we breathe them.
What are the common air pollutants around?
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Fuel combustion from vehicles and engines.
Reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the body’s organs and tissues; aggravates heart disease, resulting in chest pain and other symptoms. Ground-level Ozone (O3)
Secondary pollutant formed by chemical reaction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and NOx in the presence of sunlight. Decreases lung function and causes respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, and also makes asthma and other lung diseases get worse. More on Ground Level Ozone Here Lead (Pb)
Smelters (metal refineries) and other metal industries; combustion of leaded gasoline in piston engine aircraft; waste incinerators (waste burners), and battery manufacturing. Damages the developing nervous system, resulting in IQ loss and impacts on learning, memory, and behavior in children. Cardiovascular and renal effects in adults and early effects related to anaemia. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Fuel combustion (electric utilities, big industrial boilers, vehicles) and wood burning. Worsens lung diseases leading to respiratory symptoms, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection. Particulate Matter (PM)
This is formed through chemical reactions, fuel combustion (e.g., burning coal, wood, diesel), industrial processes, farming (plowing, field burning),
and unpaved roads or during road constructions. Short-term exposures can worsen heart or lung diseases and cause respiratory problems. Long-term exposures can cause heart or lung disease and sometimes premature deaths. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
SO2 come from fuel combustion (especially high-sulfur coal); electric utilities and industrial processes as well as and natural occurances like volcanoes. Aggravates asthma and makes breathing difficult.It also contributes to particle formation with associated health effects. What are the effects of air pollution?
Chemical reactions involving air pollutants can create acidic compounds which can cause harm to vegetation and buildings. Sometimes, when an air pollutant, such as sulfuric acid combines with the water droplets that make up clouds, the water droplets become acidic, forming acid rain. When acid rain falls over an area, it can kill trees and harm animals, fish, and other wildlife.
Acid rain destroys the leaves of plants.
When acid rain infiltrates into soils, it changes the chemistry of the soil making it unfit for many living things that rely on soil as a habitat or for nutrition. Acid rain also changes the chemistry of the lakes and streams that the rainwater flows into, harming fish and other aquatic life. Eutrophication:
Rain can carry and deposit the Nitrogen in some pollutants on rivers and soils. This will adversely affect the nutrients in the soil and water bodies. This can result in algae growth in lakes and water bodies, and make conditions for other living organism harmful. Ground-level ozone:
Chemical reactions involving air pollutants create a poisonous gas ozone (O3). Gas Ozone can affect people’s health and can damage vegetation types and some animal life too. Particulate matter:
Air pollutants can be in the form of particulate matter which can be very
harmful to our health. The level of effect usually depends on the length of time of exposure, as well the kind and concentration of chemicals and particles exposed to. Short-term effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Others include headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema. Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly.
Air pollution prevention, monitoring and solution.
Solution efforts on pollution is always a big problem. This is why prevention interventions are always a better way of controlling air pollution. These prevention methods can either come from government (laws) or by individual actions. In many big cities, monitoring equipment have been installed at many points in the city. Authorities read them regularly to check the quality of air. Let’s see more below: Government (or community) level prevention
Governments throughout the world have already taken action against air pollution by introducing green energy. Some governments are investing in wind energy and solar energy, as well as other renewable energy, to minimize burning of fossil fuels, which cause heavy air pollution.
Governments are also forcing companies to be more responsible with their manufacturing activities, so that even though they still cause pollution, they are a lot controlled.
Companies are also building more energy efficient cars, which pollute less than before. Individual Level Prevention
Encourage your family to use the bus, train or bike when commuting. If we all do this, there will be less cars on road and less fumes.
Use energy (light, water, boiler, kettle and fire woods) wisely. This is because lots of fossil fuels are burned to generate electricity, and so if we can cut down the use, we will also cut down the amount of pollution we create.
Recycle and re-use things. This will minimize the dependence of producing new things. Remember manufacturing industries create a lot of pollution, so if we can re-use things like shopping plastic bags, clothing, paper and bottles, it can help. http://eschooltoday.com/pollution/air-pollution/air-pollution-prevention.html Health impacts of air pollution
Since the onset of the industrial revolution, there has been a steady change in the composition of the atmosphere mainly due to the combustion of fossil fuels used for the generation of energy and transportation. Air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting the developing and the developed countries alike. The effects of air pollution on health are very complex as there are many different sources and their individual effects vary from one to the other. It is not only the ambient air quality in the cities but also the indoor air quality in the rural and the urban areas that are causing concern. In fact in the developing world the highest air pollution exposures occur in the indoor environment. Air pollutants that are inhaled have serious impact on human health affecting the lungs and the respiratory system; they are also taken up by the blood and pumped all round the body. These pollutants are also deposited on soil, plants, and in the water, further contributing to human exposure. As you read on you can learn about health impacts of specific air pollutants.
Sources of air pollution
Air pollutants consist of gaseous pollutants, odours, and SPM, (suspended particulate matter) such as dust, fumes, mist, and smoke. The concentration of these in and near the urban areas causes severe pollution to the surroundings. The largest sources of human-created air pollution are energy generation, transportation, and industries that use a great deal of energy
sources. Depending on their source and interactions with other components of the air, they can have different chemical compositions and health impacts. Since these pollutants are generally concentrated in and around urban areas, the outdoor urban pollution levels are far higher than in the rural areas. Fires are another major source of air pollution and can lead to severe problems if the smoke is inhaled for a period of time. These fires can either be forest fires, oil well fires, burning of leaves in the backyard or as in the case of rural areas, large-scale burning of agricultural waste. Other sources include industries and power plants located in these areas.
Impact of air pollution on health
The magnitude of the London fog of 1952, which affected such a large number of people, was the first incident that made people aware of the damage done to the atmosphere due to industrialization. The SPM levels increased manifold and resulted in over 4000 deaths. Indoor air pollution can be particularly hazardous to health as it is released in close proximity to people. It is stated that a pollutant released indoors is many times more likely to reach the lung than that released outdoors. In the developing countries a fairly large portion of the population is dependent on biomass for their energy requirements. These include wood, charcoal, agricultural residue, and animal waste. Open fires used for cooking and heating are commonly found in the household both in the rural and the urban areas. The stove is often at floor level, adding to the risk of accident and the hygiene factor. In addition, they are often not fitted with a chimney to remove the pollutants. In such households the children and women are most likely to be affected, as they are the group that spends more time indoors. The main pollutant in this environment is the SPM. In fact, death due to indoor air pollution, mainly particulate matters, in the rural areas of India are one of the highest in the world. Many of the deaths are due to acute respiratory infections in children; others are due to cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases in adults. If emissions are high and ventilation is poor, household use of coal and biomass can severely affect the indoor air quality. Pollutant emissions per meal are also very high compared to those of other fuels. Household use of fossil fuel is also fairly common in the developing countries, particularly
coal—both bituminous and lignite. These are particularly damaging as they burn inefficiently and emit considerable quantities of air pollutants. If emissions are high and ventilation poor, then the exposure levels to the gases emitted are far higher. The most harmful of the gases and agents that are emitted are particulate matter, carbon dioxide, polycyclic organic matter, and formaldehyde. The indoor concentrations of these are far higher than the acceptable levels and is cause for concern in rural areas.
Health impact of specific air pollutants
Some of these gases can seriously and adversely affect the health of the population and should be given due attention by the concerned authority. The gases mentioned below are mainly outdoor air pollutants but some of them can and do occur indoor depending on the source and the circumstances. Tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke generates a wide range of harmful chemicals and is a major cause of ill health, as it is known to cause cancer, not only to the smoker but affecting passive smokers too. It is well-known that smoking affects the passive smoker (the person who is in the vicinity of a smoker and is not himself/herself a smoker) ranging from burning sensation in the eyes or nose, and throat irritation, to cancer, bronchitis, severe asthma, and a decrease in lung function. Biological pollutants. These are mostly allergens that can cause asthma, hay fever, and other allergic diseases.
Volatile organic compounds. Volatile compounds can cause irritation of the eye, nose and throat. In severe cases there may be headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. In the longer run, some of them are suspected to cause damage to the liver and other parts of the body. Formaldehyde. Exposure causes irritation to the eyes, nose and may cause allergies in some people. Lead. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, digestive problems, and in some cases cause cancer. It is especially hazardous to small children. Radon. A radioactive gas that can accumulate inside the house, it originates from the rocks and soil under the house and its level is dominated by the outdoor air and also to some extent the other gases being emitted indoors. Exposure to this gas increases the risk of lung cancer. Ozone. Exposure to this gas makes our eyes itch, burn, and water and it has also been associated with increase in respiratory disorders such as asthma. It lowers our resistance to colds and pneumonia. Oxides of nitrogen. This gas can make children susceptible to respiratory diseases in the winters. Carbon monoxide. CO (carbon monoxide) combines with haemoglobin to lessen the amount of oxygen that enters our blood through our lungs. The binding with other haeme proteins causes changes in the function of the affected organs such as the brain and the cardiovascular system, and also the developing foetus. It can impair our concentration, slow our reflexes, and make us confused and sleepy. Sulphur dioxide. SO2 (sulphur dioxide) in the air is caused due to the rise in combustion of fossil fuels. It can oxidize and form sulphuric acid mist. SO2 in the air leads to diseases of the lung and other lung disorders such as wheezing and shortness of breath. Long-term effects are more difficult to ascertain as SO2 exposure is often combined with that of SPM. SPM (suspended particulate matter). Suspended matter consists of dust, fumes, mist and smoke. The main chemical component of SPM that is of major concern is lead, others being nickel, arsenic, and those present in diesel exhaust. These particles when breathed in, lodge in our lung tissues and cause lung damage and respiratory problems. The importance of SPM as a major pollutant needs special emphasis as a) it affects more people globally than any other pollutant on a continuing basis; b) there is more monitoring data available on this than any other pollutant; and c) more epidemiological evidence has been collected on the exposure to this than to any other pollutant. http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/air/health.htm
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