Particulate Air Pollution

Particulate Air
By Susan Tang
Bio Sci 2B
Air Pollution
Air pollution poses
many health risks and
different pollutants can
lead to respiratory
problems, exacerbated
allergies, and adverse
reproductive, and
developmental effects.
What is Particulate Matter?
Consist of solid and
liquid particles in the air
from industrial
processes, agriculture,
construction, road
traffic, and natural
 Ex: road dust, diesel
soot, ash, wood
smoke, and sulfate
Range from about 2.5
microns to 100 microns in
Fine particles, those less
than 2.5 microns in
diameter, generally come
from combustion of fossil
 Soot from vehicle
exhaust, and fine sulfate
and nitrate aerosols that
form when sulfur dioxide
and nitrogen oxides
condense in the
Combustion of fossil fuels is
the principal source of fine
particle emissions
 Ex: burning of coal, oil,
diesel fuel, gasoline, and
wood in transportation,
power generation, and
space heating
 Old coal-fired power
plants, industrial boilers,
diesel and gas-powered
Fine Particulate and Health
When particulate matter is breathed in, it can irritate
and damage the lungs causing breathing problems.
Particle matter is dangerous to human health,
especially fine particles
Fine particles are easily inhaled deeply into the lungs
where they can be absorbed into the blood stream and
remain embedded for long periods of time.
Can cause and aggravate respiratory disease and
infection (asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia), heart
disease, stroke, death
Fine Particulates
Vulnerable Population:
Pregnant Women
People with heart or lung disease
People with weakened immune systems
People who work or exercise outdoors a lot
Lives might be shortened by one to two years on average in
more polluted areas.
Research Results
The Environmental Science
Engineering Program at the
Harvard School of Public
Health concluded that
approximately 4% of the
death rate in the US can be
attributed to air pollution.
Each year over 30,000
deaths and more than
603,000 asthma attacks are
attributable to fine particle
pollution from US power
plants. (Abt Associates)
The American Cancer Society
and Harvard University found
that people living in more
polluted cities had an increased
risk of premature death
compared to those in cleaner
USC study found that children
and teenagers in Southern
California communities with
higher levels of air pollution
were more likely to have
diminished lung function.
WHO Results
During major pollution events, World Health
Organization (WHO) estimated that daily
mortality rates could increase as much as 20 %
Caution: Number may be inflated since those
who died during a pollution episode were
already sick, and the pollution may have
hastened the death by only a few days.
Numerous studies suggest that health effects
can occur at particulate levels that are at or
below the levels permitted under national and
international air quality standards
Scientists have not been able to identify a
threshold below which health effects do not occur.
This situation has prompted a vigorous debate
about whether current air quality standards are
sufficient to protect public health.
Ways to Reduce Air Pollution
Carpooling, recycling, maintaining
automobiles, walking and bicycling, public
transportation, insulating homes
Limit the use of fireplaces and wood burning
Support clean air programs and help counter
industry pressure to weaken the Clean Air Act.
Works Cited

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