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Lecture 2

EESA10H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Nitrogen Dioxide, Bronchitis, Soot

Environmental Science
Course Code
Jovan Stefanovic

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Week 2- Lecture 2
Airborne Hazards and Human Health
Case Study
1) London Smog of December 1952 “Great Smog”
- Was a severe air pollution event that affected London during December 1952. A period of
cold weather (which resulted in homes using a lot of heat), combined with high humidity and
windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly from coal burning to form a thick
layer of smog over the city.
- Coal = sulphur dioxide + fog water droplets = sulphuric acid
- The peak in the number of deaths coincided with the peak in both smoke and sulphur dioxide
pollution levels- the deaths are mostly from lung infections exacerbated by chronic
bronchitis- on the graph = 3600-4000 deaths in 6 days
- Solved when winds came
2) Indonesian Fires of 1997
- Caused mainly by slash and burn techniques adopted by farmers (it’s cheaper and most
common) in Indonesia which got out of control.
- It is usually done before the monsoon (rainy) season. However, that year was relatively dry
(El Nino) and prolonged the fires.
- Solved when rain came
- Can be connected in Canada heavy pollution in the Golden horseshoe area (Waterloo-
Kitchener, Hamilton)
Airborne Hazards
Outdoor air pollution
- Primary pollutants from human sources eg. Factories, automobiles
o Particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5) both solid and liquid forms made in the air
recently, those with 2.5 microns size are believed to have the ability to enter the
o Particles found in the air (dust, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets)
o Vehicles, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, stone crashing, burning
o Some formed in the air and transform into salts and acids (secondary)
o Causes respiratory infections and eye irritations; if severe=cancer, birth defects
o Carbon monoxide
Odourless, colourless gas
Anything that burns causes CO production
1 000 people die each year in USA as result of CO poisoning
Have the same symptoms as of flu or food poisoning
Fetuses, infants, elderly and people with heart and respiratory illnesses are at
high risk for adverse health effects
CO can interfere with the binding of Oxygen to the blood can worsen
cardiovascular conditions, nausea, headache, vomiting.
o Nitrogen oxides
Formed in any type of combustion process (common are nitrogen oxide and
nitrogen dioxide)
Involved in formation of ground level ozone
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