air pollution sources and effects dr wesam al madhoun n.
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Air Pollution Sources and Effects Dr. Wesam Al Madhoun. What is air pollution?.

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what is air pollution
What is air pollution?
  • The presence of any substances in the atmosphere in quantities which are or may be harmful or injurious to human health, welfare, animal or plant life, or property or unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
primary vs secondary pollutants
Primary vs. Secondary Pollutants
  • Primary- put directly into air from polluting source.
  • Secondary- when primary combines with other substances in air and creates something more hazardous (acid rain, smog)
  • Sun often provides energy.
major sources of primary pollutants
Major Sources of Primary Pollutants

Stationary Sources

  • Combustion of fuels for power and heat.
  • Other burning such as wood & crop burning or forest fires
  • Industrial/ commercial processes
  • Solvents and aerosols

Mobile Sources

  • Highway: cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles
  • Off-highway: aircraft, boats, farm equipment, and construction machinery.
natural sources
Natural Sources
  • Forest fires- ash, particulates, carbon dioxide
  • Volcanoes- ash, acid mist, hydrogen sulfide
  • Decaying vegetation- sulfur cmpds
  • Trees - Volatile Organic Cmpds (VOC’s)
  • Dust- from storms in arid regions
  • Gut bacteria- methane gas
criteria air pollutants
Criteria Air Pollutants

EPA uses seven "criteria pollutants" as indicators of air quality

  • Sulfur Dioxide: SO2
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: NO2
  • Carbon monoxide: CO
  • Lead: Pb
  • Particulate Matter: PM10 (PM 2.5)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds: (VOCs)
  • Ozone: ground level O3
sulfur dioxide so 2
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Effects: produces acid rain (H2SO4), breathing difficulties, eutrophication due to sulfate formation.
  • Sources:burning high sulfur coal or oil in power plants, smelting or metals, paper manufacture.
  • EPA Standard: 0.3 ppm (annual mean)
  • 2nd largest cause of air pollution-related health damage. (1st is smoking).
  • Sulfate particles reduce visibility in the U.S. as much as 80%
nitrogen dioxide no 2
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Effects: acid rain, lung and heart problems, decreased visibility (yellow haze), suppresses plant growth
  • Sources: fossil fuels combustion, power plants, forest fires, volcanoes, bacteria in soil, fertilizers
  • EPAStandard: 0.053 ppm
  • Excess nitrogen is causing fertilization & eutrophication of inland waters & seas
carbon monoxide co
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Effects: binds tighter to Hemoglobin (Hb) than O2, so organs do not get O2 needed, makes you sleepy, impairs mental functions and visual acuity, even at low levels
  • Sources:incomplete combustion of fossil fuels 60 - 95% from auto exhaust
  • EPAStandard: 9 ppm
  • 1 billion tons enter atmosphere/year
lead pb
Lead (Pb)
  • Effects: accumulates in tissue; affects kidneys, liver and nervous system (children most susceptible); mental retardation; possible carcinogen; 20% of inner city kids have high levels
  • Sources: particulates from fuel combustion, smelters, batteries
  • EPAStandard: 1.5 ug/m3
  • Mercury- neurotoxin from coal power plants
  • Both mercury & lead travel on air currents and fall into aquatic ecosystems causing bioaccumulation & bio-magnification in food webs.
s uspended p articulate m atter pm 10
Suspended Particulate Matter (PM10)
  • Effects: lung damage, carcinogenic.
  • Sources: burning coal or diesel, volcanoes, factories, unpaved roads, plowing, lint, pollen, spores, burning fields
  • EPA Standard: 50 ug/m3 (annual mean)
  • PM2.5 is worse because small enough to be inhaled more deeply
  • Asbestos fibers & cigarette smoke are most dangerous respirable particles because they are carcinogenic
vocs volatile organic compounds
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
  • Effects: eye and respiratory irritants; carcinogenic; liver, CNS, or kidney damage; damages plants; lowered visibility due to brown haze; global warming
  • Sources: vehicles(largest source),evaporation of solvents or fossil fuels, aerosols, paint thinners, dry cleaning, wetlands, rice paddies, bacteria, plants.
  • Concentrations indoors up to 1000x outdoors
ozone o 3
Ozone (O3)
  • Effects: lung irritant, damages plants, rubber, fabric, eyes
  • Sources: Created by sunlight acting on NOx and VOC , photocopiers, cars, industry, gas vapors, chemical solvents, incomplete fuel combustion products
  • Good ozone vs. bad ozone- good is in stratosphere and bad is at ground level (from cars)
other air pollutants
Other Air Pollutants
  • Carbon dioxide- natural source from respiration; human caused from fossil fuels & deforestation
  • ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFC’s)- from refrigerants, aerosols, Styrofoam
  • Formaldehyde- building materials & household products
  • Benzene- paint
  • Asbestos- car brakes, building materials
  • Dioxins- pesticides
  • Cadmium- batteries.
formation intensity of pollutant is influenced by
Formation & Intensity of Pollutant is influenced by…
  • Local climate (inversions, air pressure, temperature, humidity)
  • Topography (hills and mountains)
  • Population density
  • Amount of industry
  • Fuels used by population and industry for heating, manufacturing, transportation, power
  • Weather: rain, snow, wind
  • Buildings (slow wind speed)
  • Mass transit used

cool air


cool air

warm air (inversion layer)



• surface heated by sun

• warm air rises (incl. pollutants)

• cools off, mixes with air of equal

density & disperses

• surface cools rapidly (night)

• a layer of warm air overlays surface

• polluted surface air rises but cannot

disperse  remains trapped

Thermal Inversion- occur in valleys-pollutant effects are intensified when air cannot move upward due to cold upper air layer

smog forms
Smog Forms

...when polluted air is stagnant

(weather conditions, geographic location)

urban heat islands
Urban Heat Islands
  • Cities are generally 3-5ºC warmer than rural areas
  • Caused by:
    • Lack of vegetation to absorb heat
    • Dark buildings & roads trap heat
    • Buildings create windbreaks
  • Dust Dome- trapping of dirt & particulates over city
what are some sources of indoor air pollution
What are some sources of indoor air pollution?
  • Cigarette smoke
    • Deadliest indoor air pollutant
    • Contain formaldehyde, carbon monoxide
    • Causes lung cancer.
    • Second hand smoke may be worse due to particulates that come from tip.
    • Moisture in carpets
    • Allergy symptoms, breathing problems, headache, fatigue
Carbon monoxide
    • Malfunctioning furnace, gas appliances, cars
    • Blood cannot carry oxygen
    • Feel sleepy, nausea, dizzy, cause death.
    • Roofing, flooring, insulation, brakes
    • OK… unless disturbed or deteriorates
    • Can cause asbestosis (scarring of lungs) and meso-thelioma (type of lung cancer)

Plaque build up (scarring) in lung w/asbestosis

    • Old homes, toys, lead crystal dishes
    • Causes behavior & learning problems, slow growth, hearing problems, headaches
    • Pressed wood, paneling, particle board, glue.
    • Respiratory irritation, fatigue, skin rash, known to cause cancer
8. VOC’s
  • Paradichlorobenzene- mothballs, insecticides
  • (perchloroethylene))- dry cleaned clothes
  • Benzene- paints, cigarettes
  • Causes respiratory problems, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, organ damage, cancer
effects of air pollution on

Effects of Air Pollution on…

1. Human Health

2. Plant Health

3. Acid Deposition

1 human health
1. Human Health
  • Depends on intensity & duration of exposure, age & prior health status.
  • At-risk groups: young, old, or already suffering from respiratory/cardiovascular disease.
  • Also, more active & outside vs. sedentary inside lifestyle.
  • Most susceptible- less-developed countries use smoky fires for cooking & heating
  • Time spent in various environments in US and less-developed countries
how is it introduced to body
How is it introduced to body?
  • Inhalation
  • Absorption thru skin
  • Contamination of food & water
how does air pollution affect people
How does air pollution affect people?
  • Chronic bronchitis- coughing, trouble breathing
  • Asthma- not caused by air pollution, but aggravated by it.
  • Emphysema- lungs lose elasticity, hard to breathe
  • Lung Cancer- caused by cigarettes, car exhaust, particulates, asbestos, arsenic, radon
Sick building syndrome-
    • Buildings closed up to save energy- no circulation
    • Effects of fumes intensified
    • Symptoms: headache, eye or throat irritation, cough, itchy skin, dizziness, nausea, fatigue
    • Feel better when you get fresh air outside.
    • ≥20% of workers must be afflicted to be classified as SBS
2 plant health
2. Plant Health
  • Two Methods of Damage
    • Directly toxic
      • Irritate cell membranes
    • Disruption of plant hormones
  • Synergistic effects (when combined two are worse than each individually) unpredictable
  • Air pollutant effects on plants are sometimes confused with insect damage or other diseases.
measuring acid rain
Measuring Acid Rain
  • Normal rain is slightly acidic and has a pH of about 5.0-5.6
  • Any rainfall with a pH value less than 5.0 is defined as acid rain
two forms
Two Forms…
  • Wet

Refers to acid rain, fog, sleet, cloud vapor and snow.

  • Dry

Refers to acidic gases and particles.

increased acidity
Increased Acidity
  • Dry deposited gases and particles can also be washed from trees and other surfaces by rainstorms.
  • The runoff water adds those acids to the acid rain, making the combination more acidic than the falling rain alone.

Two main contributors to acid deposition:

  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
    • NO- nitric oxide (or nitrogen monoxide)
    • NO2- nitrogen dioxide
    • N2O- nitrous oxide
  • 66% of all sulfur dioxides and 25% of all nitrogen oxides comes from coal or oil electric power plants.
  • Most nitrogen oxides come from cars
effects of acid rain
Effects of Acid Rain
  • The strength of the effects depend on many factors
    • How acidic the water is
    • The types of fish, trees, and other living things that rely on the water
    • The chemistry and buffering capacity of the soils involved
      • limestone & basalt have high buffering capacity
      • have high ANC (Acid Neutralizing Capacity)
effects of acid rain1
Effects of Acid Rain
  • Has a variety of effects, including damage to forests and soils, fish and other living things, materials, and human health.
  • Also reduces how far and how clearly we can see through the air, an effect called visibility reduction.
  • Effects of acid rain are most clearly seen in the aquatic environments
  • Most lakes and streams have a pH between 6 and 8

buffering capacity
Buffering Capacity
  • Acid rain primarily affects sensitive bodies of water, which are located in watersheds whose soils have a limited “buffering capacity” (places that have granite bedrock or soil for example)
  • Lakes and streams become acidic when the water itself and its surrounding soil cannot buffer the acid rain enough to neutralize it.

In areas where buffering capacity is low, acid rain also releases aluminum from soils into lakes and streams

  • aluminum is highly toxic to many species of aquatic organisms.
    • Can attach to fish gills causing suffocation
    • Can release from soil particles & enter solutions taken up by plants causing death
acid rain and forests
Acid Rain and Forests
  • Acid rain does not usually kill trees directly.
  • Instead, it is more likely to
    • weaken trees by damaging their leaves
    • limit the nutrients available to them
    • expose them to toxic substances slowly released from the soil.
effects on plant nutrients
Effects on Plant Nutrients
  • Acidic water dissolves the nutrients and helpful minerals in the soil and then washes them away before trees and other plants can use them to grow.
  • Acid rain also causes the release of substances that are toxic to trees and plants, such as aluminum, into the soil.
effects on property
Effects on Property
  • Many statues, monuments, etc. made from limestone (CaCO3), marble or metal
  • Acid rain can dissolve rock or tarnish metal
  • Expensive to restore, refurbish, maintain
  • Car manufacturers now use acid-resistant paint at a cost of $5.00 per new vehicle