EESA10- Lecture 2
Airborne Hazards and Human Health
Case study 1: London Smog, 1952 – still has huge impact.it was a landmark for
air pollution. Even before that the air slightly polluted. Contains sulfur and
releases dioxide. – not strongly recognized
Whole era of air cleaning started. 
Heating of the house was necessary. Sulfuric acids and other pollutants into the
air. Why 1952? – was called cold winter. The air was stagnant. – smog becomes
so thick that it was like fog.
People were chocking because of the sulfur dioxide that was causing throat
problems. A man guides a London bus through thick fog with a flaming torch
during the 1952 Great Smog
Sulfur dioxide connected to the death of people.
Figure shows the average smoke and sulfur oxide levels for 12 london sites and
the relationship with deaths recorded during the smog period in December
1952. The peak in the number of deaths conincided with the peak in both smoke
and sulfur dioxide pollution levels.
London is very clean because of the improvement – number of the species that
are coming back thus air is improving and so is the human health.
Case 2: Indonesian Fires, 1997 – system uses slash and burn (burning the forest),
monsoon – they help to extinguish the fire. That’s how the size of the area that
burns is in the control. As monsoon doesn’t arrive the size of burned area gets
bigger and bigger – this leads to the release of smog. – caused accidents.
Sometimes its out of human control.
The same thing happened in 1998. Smoke over Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia,
photographed by the space shuttle atlantis. Smoke from fires set to clear land for
agriculture in Indonesia at one time in 1997 blanketed an area larger than the
Fire damage classification of the 1997-1998 fires in East Kalimantan, Indonesia,
based on ERS-SAR images.
In spite of having various solution, the problem still exists. This is a global
problem – has to be done everywhere – from developing country to continental.
Airborne Hazzards: outdoor air pollution – sources: human: stationary, mobile.
Natural sources: are rare. Human sources frequencies are much higher. Some air
pollutants are organics and the other are inorganics.
Indoor air pollution – more.
Health effects of ourdoor: the effects depend on the dose or concentration:
Particulates and/or SO2 can irritate brochial passages leading to severe
difficulties in breathing or allergy.
From 1983-1993 prevalence in the US increased 34%
The incidence among a children in Australia was one in fice, a doubling of the
rate in less than 20 years Indoor air pollution is also significant
Chronic Bronchitis: occurs when an excessive amount of mucus is produced in
bronchi which results in a lasting cough – built up during the night
SO2 and smoking is related to chronic bronchitis
Pulmonary emphysema: weakening of the wall of alveoli, they become enlarged
and loss their resilience
Shortness of breath is the primary symptom
NO2 is related to emphysema
Lung cancer, heart disease - Toxic poisoning Eye irritation
Seven common outdoor air pollutants: primary air pollutants: ppt
Particulate matter (PM10 and PM 2.5) now a days, smaller particles can cause
bigger harms and cause bigger problems. Now most of the research are focused
on PM 2.5, construction creates lots of dusts [think about solids]
Particles found in the air (dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets)
Big and small
Vehicles, factories, construction sites, titled fields, stone crashing, burning [trash,
releases that into the atmosphere]
Some formed in the air [some of the gases, oxides creates the salt, can cause
Serious health effects
Carbon monoxide: odourless, colorless gas
Incomplete burning of carbon containing fuels
Heaters, woodstoves, gas stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, automobile exhaust,
1000 people die each year in US as result of CO poisoning
Sometimes confused with flue or food poisoning
Fetuses, infants, elderly and people with heart and respiratory [ppt]
Interferes with the delivery of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body
Worsen cardiovascular condition
Fatigue, headache, weakness, confusion, disorientation, loss of coordination,
nausea, dizziness, death.
Carbon monoxide – poisoning
Hemoglobin has higher affinity of carbon monoxide and with interfere with the
Prevention: never leave a car engine running in a shed or garage or in any
Nitrogen oxide (NOx) – are less soluble than sulfuric acids. Wouldn’t cause the
burning feel. They have impact on lungs. But sulfuric acid will impact upper
airways but less impact on lower airways. Sulfuric gases are not so much in the
vehicles but nitrogen oxide is full within the traffic. – a product of internal
burning – gasoline
Form in any type of combustion process involve in formation of ground level
Form nitrate particles, acid aerosols Contribute in formation of acid rain
Transported over long distances.
Sulfur oxide (Sox)
Burning of coal and oil, extraction of metals from ore
SO2 dissolves in water vapor to from acids
Acids react with other gases and particles and from sulfates.
Transported over long distances
Respiratory illnesses, aggravates existing