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Environmental Science
Jovan Stefanovic

Chapter 2: Urban and Transboundary Air Pollution - Recognition of the relationship between exposure to air pollutants and respiratory illness dates back to the sixteenth century and description of respiratory disease in miners - Much of what we currently understand about environmental lung disease derives from the study of exposed workers since the Industrial Revolution - Later in the industrial nations of Europe and North America, whole communities were engulfed in air pollutants, resulting in serious illness and death among individuals with cardiopulmonary disease - These air pollution emergencies were caused by air stagnation, which resulted in greatly increased concentrations of atmospheric pollutants, especially sulfur dioxide and suspended particulates - After these air pollution problems, more attention has been placed on the health effects of air pollution. We face a crisis in worldwide air pollution today because of a few reasons. - First, since the atmosphere is dynamic and always changing, contaminants are transported (sometimes over thousands of miles), diluted, precipitated, and transformed. Air pollution therefore knows no boundaries or national borders - Second, many cities in developing nations and in Eastern Europe are experiencing uncontrolled industrial expansion, increasing motor vehicle numbers and congestion, and pollution caused by fuels used for cooking and heating - A 1988 study between air pollution and wealth reported that poorer countries (relying heavily on coal) had significantly higher levels of total suspended particulates (TSPs) than wealthier nations - Third, in nations that have reduced the primary emissions from heavy industry, power plants, and automobiles, new problems have arisen from pollution by newer industries and from air pollution caused by secondary formation of acids and ozone - Finally damage to ecosystems and agriculture from acid rain, damage to building and artwork, and reduced visibility are all attributable to air pollution Defining Adverse Health Effects - Any effect that results in altered structure or impaired function or that represents the beginning of a sequence of events leading to altered structure or function is considered an “adverse health effect” Sulfur Dioxide and Acidic Aerosols - Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is produced by the combustion of sulfur contained in fossil fuels, such as coal and crude oil - The sulfur dioxide released into the atmosphere does not remain gaseous. It undergoes chemical reaction with water, metals, and other pollutants to form aerosols - Sulfur dioxide and other products of fossil fuel combustion forms the heavy urban pollution in many cities in developing nations today by mainly burning coal - Smog – a descriptive term generically referring to the visibly cloudy combination of smoke and fog - Two measures of air acidity showered significant effects: o Higher particle acidity was significantly associated with an increased risk of bronchitis o Higher levels of gaseous acids were significantly associated with the risk of asthma - Acidic aerosols result in “acid rain” which may threaten aquatic life - Patients with asthma are very sensitive to the bronchoconstrictive effects of SO2 and react to much lower levels compared to normal people Particulates - Particulate air poll
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