Five most common air pollutants; Check sources and their effects on our lives

By: |
February 25, 2020 5:35 PM

Air Pollution has been normalised by us in our society as one of the mainstays and this is evident from facts that a lot of objects or things we come across every day are potential pollutants.

Air Pollution has been normalised by us in our society as one of the mainstays.

Air pollution is one of the most serious global problems that pose a potential threat to the population irrespective of their class of living. However, urbanization and the lack of opportunities to earn livelihood have pushed people across all age groups towards the city, against the rising level of air pollution. Air Pollution has been normalised by us in our society as one of the mainstays and this is evident from facts that a lot of objects or things we come across every day are potential pollutants.

Here are the commonly found pollutants, their sources and the effects they bring to our lives:

1. Particulate Matter

These pollutants have been in the news thanks to the unbreathable quality of air in many cities across the world especially the capital of India New Delhi where Air Quality Index shot up as high as 400.

Particulate matters are classified into the following types based on their particle size:

PM 10: Particulate matters 10 are the particles with a diameter ranging from 2.5 microns to 10 microns. These particulate matters are coarse particles and are not inhalable for human beings. The pollutants of this big size can severely affect our nose, throat, and eyes. Road dust and smoke coming out of factories are the chief contributors to PM10.

PM 2.5: These are fine particulate matters that can be inhaled by human beings for its narrow diameter of less than 2.5 microns. It principally affects human lungs that may lead to respiratory disorders like Asthma, Bronchial Asthma, Bronchitis, and Emphysema. Dust mites, bacteria, and dust from construction and demolition sites are the major source of PM 2.5.

Ultra-Fine Particles: These are pollutants with a diameter of less than 0.1 microns. These are the most dangerous among all the particulate matters causing air pollution because of their extremely small particle size. These can be inhaled as well as can penetrate into human bloodstream causing tissue changes in different organs and ultimately organ damage.

2. Pollen

Pollen is the most potent causative agent for seasonal allergies. When Pollens released by flowers to fertilise, it enters into our respiratory system by inhalation and subsequently our body produces antibodies against the pollen grains that act like foreign entities in our body.

3. Lead

Lead affects human metabolism severely as its chronic exposure may lead to dysfunction of blood-forming organs, nervous system as well as the urinary system. It can also cause the death of human beings after chronic exposure.

4. Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds are as dangerous as particulate matters as it affects indoor air quality. These are the gases released from solid or liquid compounds present in our neighborhood. Exposure to VOCs can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. It can also inflict headaches and nausea in certain human beings. Long term exposure to VOCs can also lead to dysfunctional Kidney and nervous system and cancer. Building materials, furnishing chemicals, house cleaners and disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides are the common sources of VOCs.

5. Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon Monoxide is one of the most deadly and common byproducts of vehicles and petroleum products. Excess Carbon Monoxide exposure can lead to health hazards as serious as deaths. It also can cause mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination. Burning of wood, coal, fuel such as Petrol and Diesel contribute towards the Carbon Monoxide production.

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