Air pollution by particulates, Science

Air pollution by Particulates:

Particulates constitute the third category of air pollutants. These are mostly fine carbon particles (less  than 0.002 mm  in diameter)  formed by  the combustion of  fossil fuels. They remain suspended in the air, where they absorb other substances  such as lead, hydrocarbonssulphur  and nitrogen oxides. These particles enter the lungs during breathing and increases the chances of  lung cancer, and other  respiratory diseases.

Diesel automobiles and trucks emit between 30 and  100  times more carbon particles  than other vehicles. Asbestos is also an air pollutant in the form of particles that enter the atmosphere from asbestos mining andmilling operations  and from the manufacture, disposal and use of asbestos containing products such as insulation devices. Asbestosis, a cancerous  disease caused by deposition oasbestos in  the lungs, is widely prevalent among the people working with this material. Several miners are known to have died in Singhbhum, Bihar due to this disease. Recently, this disease has been classified as a killer disease under the Factories Act. 

Silicosis, another cancerous disease caused by deposition of  silica in the lungs, is prevalentamong the people working in  the mining, potteries, foundries, stone  cutting and finishing, and glass manufacturing industries. It  is also a fatal disease. 

The air in most of  the urban areas in India has a very high level of particulates. In  fact, an unpleasant haze of dust and smoke particles has become almost an integral part of our urbaenvironment. For example in cities like Delhi and Bombay, during rush hours in the mornings or evenings,  it becomes difficult  to breathe if you are caught for long at traffic crossings. There is so much of vehicular exhaust  fumes. One of  the most harmful pollutants is sulphur dioxide.  

It is a compound containing sulphuand oxygen and is produced when fossil fuels contaminated by  sulphur are burned. Sulphurdioxide has a sharp odour and irritates  the respiratory tissues.  It also  reacts with water, oxygen and other materials in air to form sulphur containing  acids.

The acids also become attached to particles in the air, When, inhaled, such particles are veiy corrosive to lung tissue. Sulphur  dioxide also adversely affects the plants and reduces their growth. Steel getscorroded 2 to 4 times faster in sulphur-laden air. Sulphur dioxide also corrodes other metalslike zinc as well as building stone. Oxides of nitrogen are also major primary air pollutants. As a result of  a variety of combinations of nitrogen and oxygen, a number of  compounds, oxides of  nitrogen, are formed. The primary source  of nitrogen oxides is automobile engines. Oxides of  nitrogen react with other compounds  to produce photochemical smog which we will describe now.  

Posted Date: 9/28/2012 5:47:20 AM | Location : United States

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