Air is all around us and the pollution that is affecting the air we breathe is becoming a serious environmental issue. There are several types of air pollution. Two forms of air pollution in particular are considered to be the most harmful to humans. These are ozone or better known as smog and particle pollution also known as soot.
For the most part, ozone or smog is created when there is a chemical reaction between sunlight and the vapors that are emitted by the burning of carbon based or fossil fuels. Smog is generally at its highest level of pollution during the sunniest months of the year. This is from May through October.
People who are exposed to ozone on a steady basis can have short term health issues usually immediately following exposure. These health issues can include skin irritation and irritation of the respiratory system. People exposed over a long period of time can develop more serious health issues. These health issues can include impaired lung function, higher rates of pulmonary disease and inflammation of the lung lining.
Particle pollution, or soot, is very dangerous to human health and is found throughout the environment. Particle air pollution is solid and liquid particles that are made up of metals, soot, chemicals, ash and diesel exhaust.
This form of pollution is generally produced by the burning of coal within power plants and other such industries. Also, they are produced by the use of diesel fuel in heavy equipment, cargo vehicles and passenger vehicles. Burning wood is a source of particle pollution, too. Agricultural practices that produce soot and stir up chemicals will produce air pollution.
Health concerns regarding particle pollution include heart attacks, irregular heart rates, irritated respiratory conditions, stroke and shortened life spans. Studies have also shown that lung cancer and premature births are caused by exposure to particle pollutions. Even in low concentrations particle pollution is extremely dangerous to human health.
Other Types of Air Pollutants
There are several other common air pollutants that cause health risks to humans. Air pollution is a very real concern and affects the air quality both outdoors and indoors.
- Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is released into the air by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are burned in vehicles, industrial plants, home heating systems and other sources. It is a colorless and odorless gas and is very poisonous to both humans and animals when it is inhaled.
- Nitrogen oxides
Nitrogen oxides are the gases that contribute to acid rain and smog. It is a very dangerous pollutant to the environment and to the health of humans.
- Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is emitted into the air by the burning of sulfur containing fuels such as coal and oil. It does cause health issues, more so in humans who have pre-existing lung or heart conditions.
Lead is a neurotoxin when it is in the body in very high concentrations. Lead can cause immune system breakdowns, reproductive problems, kidney failure and cardiovascular issues. It is emitted into the air by industrial sites, waste burning facilities and vehicles.