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Particulates and Air Pollution

Presented By:
Beenish Naheed
Muhammad Shoaib 14-MS-04

A mixture of particles found in the
air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke,
and liquid droplets.
Some particles are large or dark
enough to be seen as soot or smoke.
Others are so small that individually
they can only be detected with an
electron microscope.

Particles with diameter 2.5 micrometers and

smaller are referred to as Fine

Particles with diameters between 2.5

and 10 micrometers are referred to as

Sources of PM

Mobile Sources

Stationary Sources
(power plants, factories)
NO2, SO2

Area Sources
(drycleaners, gas stations)

Natural Sources
(forest fires, volcanoes)

Sources of fine particles

All types of combustion
-Motor vehicle
-Power plants
-Wood burning, etc.
-Some industrial

Sources of coarse particles include

crushing or grinding operations
and dust from paved or unpaved

Ambient Fine

Can stay in the atmosphere from days to weeks,

travel hundreds
of miles. long distances and
can be transported
impact large of numbers of people

Chemical Composition of

Elemental carbon
Organic carbon
Trace elements such as metals
Varying amounts of water.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2), mainly from combustion of
fossil fuel,
is oxidized in the atmosphere to form sulfuric acid
(H2SO4) particles. Ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 is the
most common sulfate species in ambient aerosol

Nitrogen oxides (NOx= NO + NO2) are formed

during combustion or any high temperature process
involving air

Eventually can be converted in the atmosphere into

both nitric acid (HNO3) particles and the particulate
ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3).

Elemental Carbon.
Chain agglomerates of very small elemental
carbon (EC) particles are formed during
combustion, such as in open hearth fireplaces,
wood stoves and diesel engines.

Organic Carbon.
Several categories of organic carbon (OC)
compounds are also often found in ambient air, as

Primary-anthropogenic (man-made).
Incomplete combustion also leads to
hundreds of organic compounds being
present in the atmosphere as particles,
including polycyclic (Polynuclear)
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Secondary-anthropogenic. Some complex
organic compounds react with ozone or
other atmospheric constituents to form

Primary biogenic. Viruses, some

bacteria, and plant and/or animal cell
fragments may compose a portion of the
fine particulates in the atmosphere.
Secondary biogenic. Terpenes, which
are cyclic olefins released by plants, also
react in the atmosphere to yield organic
particulate matter.

Trace Elements
A variety of metals and nonmetals are volatilized during
the combustion of fossil
fuels, smelting of ores, and
incineration of wastes and
are emitted as fine particles
(or vapors which rapidly form
fine particles).

What Adverse Health Effects

Have Been Linked to PM?

Premature death
Lung cancer
Exacerbation of COPD
Development of chronic lung disease
Heart attacks
Hospital admissions and ER visits for heart and
lung disease

What Adverse Health Effects

Have Been Linked to PM?
Respiratory symptoms and medication use in
people with chronic lung disease and asthma
Pre-term birth
Low birth weight
Chronic bronchitis
Work and school absences

Who is Most at Risk from Exposure to Fine

The Elderly:
Studies estimate that tens of thousands of elderly people die
prematurely each year from exposure to ambient levels of
fine particles.
Studies also indicate that exposure to fine particles is
associated with thousands of hospital admissions each year.
Many of these hospital admissions are elderly people
suffering from lung or heart disease.

Who is Most at Risk from Exposure to Fine

Individuals with Preexisting Heart or Lung Disease:
Breathing fine particles can also adversely affect individuals with
heart disease, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis by causing
additional medical treatment. Inhaling fine particulate matter has
been attributed to increased hospital admissions, emergency
room visits and premature death among sensitive populations.

Who is Most at Risk from Exposure to Fine

The average adult breathes 13,000 liters of air per day; children
breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than
Because children's respiratory systems are still developing, they
are more susceptible to environmental threats than healthy
Exposure to fine particles is associated with increased frequency
of childhood illnesses, which are of concern both in the short
run, and for the future development of healthy lungs in the
affected children.

Who is Most at Risk from Exposure to Fine

Asthmatics and Asthmatic Children:
More and more people are being diagnosed with asthma every
year. Fourteen Americans die every day from asthma, a rate
three times greater than just 20 years ago. Children make up 25
percent of the population, but comprise 40 percent of all asthma
Breathing fine particles, alone or in combination with other
pollutants, can aggravate asthma, causing greater use of
medication and resulting in more medical treatment and hospital

The Role of Inversions

A temperature inversion is a thin layer of the atmosphere where
the normal decrease in temperature with height switches to the
temperature increasing with height. This can cause several
weather-related effects. One is the trapping of pollutants below
the inversion, allowing them to build up. If the sky is very hazy,
or is sunsets are very red, there is likely an inversion
somewhere in the lower atmosphere.

Major Episodes of Severe Air Pollution

due to Inversions
1930: Meuse River Valley, Belgium
An inversion led to a high
concentration of pollutants during
a period of cold, damp weather
60 deaths recorded

Major Episodes of Severe Air Pollution

due to Inversions
1948: Donora, Pennsylvania
Similar inversion to Meuse River
20 deaths observed
1952: London
Killer fog (right)
Primary source: domestic coal
4,500 excess deaths recorded
during week- long period in

How Does PM Cause Health Effects?

Several theories have been advanced as to the mechanism of
action. It is likely that more than one mechanism is involved in
causing PM-related health effects. Theories include the following:
1. PM leads to lung irritation
which leads to increase
permeability in lung tissue;
2. PM increases susceptibility to
viral and bacterial pathogens
leading to pneumonia in
vulnerable persons who are
unable to clear these

How Does PM Cause Health Effects?


PM aggravates the severity of chronic lung diseases

causing rapid loss of airway function;


PM causes inflammation
of lung tissue, resulting in
the release of chemicals
that impact heart function;


PM causes changes in
blood chemistry that
results in clots that can
cause heart attacks.

What Improvements Would Result from EPA's

New Standards?
EPA's new standards will provide increased health protection
from the following effects:
About 15,000 lives each year will be saved, especially among
the elderly and those with existing heart and lung diseases.
Reduced risk of hospital admissions by thousands each year,
and fewer emergency room visits, especially in the elderly and
those with existing heart and lung diseases.
Reduced risk of symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis,
tens of thousands fewer cases each year.

What Improvements Would Result from EPA's

New Standards?
Reduced risk of respiratory symptoms in children, hundreds of
thousands fewer incidences each year of symptoms such as
aggravated coughing and difficult or painful breathing.
Reduced risk of aggravation of asthma, hundreds of
thousands fewer incidences each year, in children and adults
with asthma.
Reduced risks of susceptibility to childhood illnesses.

What Improvements Would Result from EPA's

New Standards?
Improved visibility over broad regions in the east and urban
The Clean Air Act placed special emphasis on preserving
visibility in certain national parks and wilderness areas. In
response, EPA is developing a "regional haze" program
intended to ensure all parts of the country make continued
progress toward the national visibility goal of "no manmade

Air Pollution Research:

Setting the Future Agenda
The Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate
Matter was established by the National Research Council in
January 1998 in response to a request from Congress and the EPA.
The Committee produced 4 reports over the period 1998 2004.

I. Immediate Priorities
and a Long-Range
Research Portfolio

II. Evaluating Research

Progress and Updating
the Portfolio

III. Early Research


IV. Continuing Research