Common AIR POLLUTANTS Summary Table
- What pollutants are in the air?
- Where do they come from?
- What could they do to me or the environment?
|Name of pollutant||Properties||Source||Effects|
|Sulphur dioxide||Colourless and smells like burnt matches||-Most of it comes from smelters and power plants-Also comes from steel mills, petroleum refineries, and pulp and paper mills||-High levels could lead to breathing problems and respiratory illness-Aggravates existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases-Can lead to acid rain|
|Ozone||A colourless and odourless gas||-Formed in the lower atmosphere just above the Earth’s surface when energy from the sun reacts with industrial pollutants and motor-vehicle exhaust particles in the air||-Irritates the respiratory tract and eyes-High levels can lead to chest tightness, coughing and wheezing-Linked to more hospital visits and premature death
Causes farm crop loss and damages plants and trees
|Nitrogen dioxide||A reddish-brown gas with a pungent odour||-About 63 per cent of it comes from vehicles on the road-Most of the remainder comes from power generation, metal production and incineration-A small portion comes from natural sources||-Irritates the lungs and weakens the body’s resistance to respiratory infections- When it chemically changes to nitric acid, it can degrade metal and rubber, fade fabrics, and damage trees and crops|
|Total reduced sulphur compounds||Smells like rotten eggs or cabbage||-Comes from steel companies, pulp and paper mills, refineries and sewage- treatment facilities-Also comes from natural sources like swamps, bogs and marshes.||-It doesn’t really harm your health – it just smells bad-Extremely high levels can make people nauseated and cause headaches|
|Carbon monoxide||A colourless, odourless and tasteless but poisonous gas||-Produced when fossil fuels are burned-About 65 per cent of it comes from vehicles on the road-Most of the remainder comes from metal producers and fuel combustion in space-heating and industrial processes||-In the bloodstream it reduces the amount of oxygen going to the lungs and the body’s tissues-High levels can impair vision, work capacity, learning ability and performance of difficult tasks-Those with heart disease are particularly sensitive|
|Fine particulate matter||A mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air||-Most of it comes from fuel combustion from motor vehicles, power generation, and residential fireplaces-It includes aerosols, smoke, fumes, dust, ash and pollen||-Linked with more hospital visits and several serious health effects, including premature death-Adverse effects can stem from both short-term exposure (a day) and longer periods (a year or more)|