Major sources of air pollution
  • CO (vehicles)
  • NOX (burning fuel, power plants)
  • SO2 (burning fossil fuels)
  • VOC (solvents, paints, glues)
  • Particulate matter (agriculture, construction, fires, motor vehicles and industrial processes)
Environmental science book

Natural sources
  • Dust
  • Methane (emitted in the digestion of food by animals)
  • Radon (radioactive decay in Earth’s crust)
  • Smoke (wildfires)
  • Sulfur, chlorine, and ash particulates (volcanoes)

Primary pollutant- emitted directly from the source of the pollutant
Ex. CO (carbon monoxide), NOX (oxides of nitrogen), dust, ash, salt paricles, volatile organic compounds.
Example from http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter18/primary.html
Definition from website below.
Secondary pollutant- not directly emitted, but forms when primary pollutants react in the atmosphere.
Ex. Ozone (formed when HC (hydrocarbons) and NOX (nitrogen oxides) combine in sunlight. NO combines with the oxygen and acid rain.

How pollution affects our health:
  • 2.4 million people die each year from the causes directly related to air pollution.
  • Difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing
  • Short term- irritation of eyes nose and throat, bronchitis, pneumonia
  • Long term- brain damage, nerve, and liver/kidney, heart damage. Lung cancer, and asthma.
Environmental Science book


Smog Areas Effected
1. Houston
2. Phoenix
3. Las Vegas
4. New Delhi
5. New York
6. Cairo
7. Los Angeles
8. Sacramento
9. Sao Paulo
10. Mexico City Toronto
11. Athens
12. Beijing
13. Shanghai
14. Hong Kong
15. Manila

  • Type of air pollution
  • Combination of smoke and fog
  • Caused by large amounts of burning coal in one area caused by a mixture of sulfur dioxide and smoke

Health Issues
1. Ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide very harmful to senior citizens, children, anyone with heart and lung conditions (emphysema, bronchitis, asthma)
a. Inflame breathing passages, decrease lung working capacity, shortness of breath, pain inhaling deeply, wheezing, coughing
2. Cause eye and nose irritation
3. Dries out protective membranes of nose and throat
4. Interferes with the ability to fight infection
5. When levels are high and for an extended period of time respiratory deaths can happen.

Natural Causes
  • Volcanos (release high levels of sulphure dioxide)

Indoor Air Pollution

  • Mold and pollen
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pesticides
  • Household products
  • Radon gases
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Asbestos, formaldehyde, lead

Health issues
  • Sick building syndrome
  • Discomfort most feel better after the source of the pollution is eliminated
  • Some cause diseases that appear later in life
o Respiratory disease/cancer

What can be done?
  • Make sure your building is well-ventalated

What the different pollutants are and cause.
  • By products of combusion CO, CO2, NOX
o Unvented kerosene and gas heaters, gas appliances, wood/gas fireplaces, leaking chimneys/furnaces, tobacco smoke, sutomobile exhaust
§ Health effects: eye, nose, throat irritation, lung function impaired, bronchitis, lung cancer
§ What we can do: avoid the use of unvented gas/kerosene space heaters. Keep gas appliances/furnaces adjusted properly. Install/use exhaust fans. Change heating/cooling system filters. Increase of outside air supply. Proper air intake locations
  • Tobacco smoke
o Tobacco
§ Health effects: eye, nose, throat irritation, headaches, pneumonia. Increase risk of respiratory/ear infections in kids. Lung cancer and increase risk of heart disease.
  • Formaldehyde
o Pressed wood products (hardwood, plywood wall paneling), furniture. Glue, stoves, fireplaces
§ Health effects: Eye, nose, throat irritation, coughing, fatigue, rashes, allergic reactions, cancer in animals. Can cause death at high concentrations.
§ What we can do: use products w/lower emission rates. Low humidity in hous, more ventilation

Climate Change

  • Changes in the modern climate
  • “Global Warming”
  • Causes
o Solar radiation
o Greenhouse gas
o CO2 levels
§ Burning of fossil fuels
  • Indicators
o Glacier thinning and elimination
o Vegetation- improved growth
o Ice core- how thick the ice is
o Dendroclimatology- tree ring analysis
o Pollen
o Insects
o Sea level change

Acid Precipitation

  • Term referring to the deposition of rain, snow, sleet, fog, and dew plus gases that are acidic
  • Can damage many historic monuments and other buildings made of limestone and marble that contain large amounts of calcium carbonate. The acid precipitation reacts with the calcium carbonate.