Cornell style notes Lecture 2
Human Health and The Environment Mid-Term Study Notes
Airborne hazards•Outdoor and indoor pollution
Outdoor pollution •Human-sources-stationary (e.g. industry plants)
•Natural sources (e.g. volcanic ash)
•Human sources-mobile (e.g. automobiles)
•Effect is dependant on dose or concentration
•Non-severe symptoms: eye irritation, respiratory
•More severe: birth defects, toxic poisoning
2. carbon monoxide
5.VOC- volatile organic compounds
Particulate matter•Solid or liquid and is found in the air
•It occasionally forms in the air (i.e. sulphuric
•Particles are big or small PM10 or PM2.5—
enters lungs easily.
•Formed by vehicles, factories, contruction sites,
Carbon Monoxide •Odourless and colourless gas
•Formed due to incomplete burning
•This is present everywhere, but it is lethal when
concentrated (e.g. in garages)
•Often confused with flu or food poisoning.
Interferes with oxygen circulation
•Children and elderly are more at risk
Nitrogen Oxides•Forms in any combustion process
•Forms nitrates, acid aerosols, and acid rain
•Not completely soluble in water, thus damaging
•Can travel far distances
Sulphur Oxides•Very soluble in water, and reacts easily to form
•Forms in burning of oil and core and in
extraction of metals from ore.
•Can be transported over long distances
•Destructive to respiratory system and
aggravates heart and lung disease.
•Used in industry (e.g. hydrocarbons)
•Some of these produce photochemical smog
Lead •Not as significant because leaded gasoline
•Lead from past is still present in environment
•Seen in soil and water
•Children most prone to lead poisoning
Ozone •VOC+Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)
•Can only form due to other pollutants present in
•Good ozone exists in stratosphere and bad ozone
is at ground level.
•More present during certain periods because
factors are more present (i.e. summer v.s.
winter, nighttime v.s. daytime)
•Travels far distances and damages lungs.
Smog •2 types of smog: 1. Photochemical 2. Sulphuric
•photochemical is present due to sunlight
Indoor air pollution •Concentrated forms of pollutants + more time
spent indoors + lack of ventilation = more prone
Health effects of
•Difficult to sense because symptoms are similar
to common colds or flus
•Years to develop which can eventually become
cancer and asthma
Six common indoor
3.Mold and moisture
Asbestos•Made up of six different minerals.
•Fibers are long, strong, and flexible
•Heat-resistant, difficult to break down and does
not dissolve or evaporate thus traveling long
•Exposure: found in many places at low levels.
(e.g. buildings, water, demolition etc.)
•Effect: asbestosis: scar-like tissue on the lungs,
as well as heart enlargement, disability and
Formaldehyde •VOC that is colourless with a strong emall.
•Gas at room temperature and can be released
•Found in: cigarettes, glues, preservatives, paper
and insulation etc.
•Health effects: irritation in eyes, nose, and
throat, asthma, cancer, coughing etc.
Mold and Moisture•Water is not physically needed, just moisture,
such as air humidity
•Creates spores that spread and creates an odor
•Health effects: allergies, asthma, toxins and
•Solution: control moisture
Secondhand Smoke•Many compounds and many of them are
•Health effect: effects cardiovascular system, eye,
throat and nose irritation
•Kills many through lung cancer
Radon Gas•Colourless, odorless, and naturally occurring
•Radioactive decay of uranium
•Enters homes through soil and building
Airdust•Dust is comprised of many things (e.g. mold,
mites, pollen, bacteria, viruses etc.)
•Travels through heating and cooling systems.