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Lecture 2

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Environmental Science
Jovan Stefanovic

Lecture 2 – Airborne Hazards and Human Health: January, 18, 2012 Case Study 1: London smog, 1952:  Since the industrial revolution, the amount of smog has increased but not until 1952 did people realize that something must be done  At that time everyone relied on burning coal. Soft coal was used and when this coal was burned sulfur dioxide is released as a by product.  People got chocked because of sulfur dioxide  It was very difficult to drive because there would be smog everywhere  About 4000 people died The relationship between smoke and sulfur dioxide pollution and deaths:  British government realized that something has to be done so government introduced British Clean Air Act and others followed.  Even with the act, cities are still polluted and new pollutants are created.  What the British government did first was replace coal with something more efficient. Case Study 2: Indonesian Fires, 1997:  Very common practice is Slash and Burn where trees are burned to clear the land.  In 1997, this year was different, the year was dry and rain arrived later than usual, therefore the fire was uncontrolled and a tremendous amount of gases were released into the atmosphere  Mesus (rain) arrived and extinguished the fires. Sources of Outdoor air pollution:  Nature could be a source such as volcanoes  Human sources can be divided into two categories: Stationary like industry, homes and mobile like cars.  Primary air pollutants react in the atmosphere to become other products (secondary air pollutants) Health effects of outdoor air pollution:  The effects depend on how long someone will get exposed and dose or concentration.  Asthma is a difficulty in breathing  Tremendous cases of asthma increasing  Chronic bronchitis – excessive amount of mucus cause strong cough  Pulmonary emphysema – person has shortness of breath  Lung cancer and heart disease have also increased because of air pollution  Toxic poisoning – carbon monoxide can cause toxic poisoning because people can die from it  Eye irritation – smoke can irritate the eyes.  Air pollution can cause birth defects – more research Seven common outdoor air pollution: Particulate Matter:  Liquids as well as salts  Two big groups of particulate matter: PM10 and PM2.5  Research has been focused on PM2.5 because these small particulates are more dangerous because they can travel farther into our system.  These small particulates are released from internal combustion (in vehicles)  Chemical composition of particles also matters because of different toxicology per composition Carbon Monoxide:  If your exposed to high levels of CO, you will not know, when your exposed to it you don’t know.  If someone is exposed to high levels of CO, the person will lose coordination and have headache, etc. Prevention:  CO are outside Nitrogen Oxides:  Belongs to group called photo chemical smoke  They are not product of burning of coal, mostly from internal combustion  Not very much soluble in water therefore when it comes into contact with our body they will not dissolve in water and will travel into our airways and damaged our lungs. They may also damage upper airways when we exercise  Air pollution is not a localized problem, it’s a global problem  12% of soft coal come from China Sulfur Oxides:  Very well soluble in water  Easily dissolve and mostly affect upper airways VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds):  Volatile, as soon as you open the “can” you smell them  All hydrocarbons are volatile organic compounds. Lead:  Gasoline use to have
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