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Common Gases In The Air That Could Be Harmful

Posted in Air Quality, on September 04, 2015

Are you aware that certain gases are potentially harmful to your health? Discover whether they might be the cause of your symptoms. A major part of our health originates from how clean the air we inhale is. You'll realize that carcinogens and fumes from factories and harmful gases are around us, consequently affecting air quality. Numerous kinds of air pollutants exist, and their exact concentration and composition depend on the type of chemicals/fuel involved as well as the source activity. While most people recognize the existence of various gases in the atmosphere, they might not know that they're potentially harmful. Here are some of the effects of common gases in the air.

Nitrogen dioxide

The pollutant belongs to a group of highly reactive gases termed nitrogen oxides (NOx). The formation of these gases occurs when fuel burns at elevated temperatures, and originate mainly from vehicle exhaust and stationary sources, for instance industrial boilers and electric utilities. This gas can also react in the air to form acid rain, ozone, and particles. Nitrogen dioxide can cause lung irritation and decrease resistance to respiratory infections, for instance influenza. High exposure levels could also result in coughs and shortness of breath. It's important to note that nitrogen oxides can lead to ozone formation, which could affect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems adversely. In Canada, the emissions of NOx were 26% lower in 2002 emissions than 2012. During the same period, Canada ranked second among the OECD member nations.

Sulfur dioxide

You can't smell the corrosive gas, which is invisible at low levels. The pollutant belongs to a group of gases termed sulfur oxides and the formation of the gases occurs when fuel comprising sulfur (mainly oil and coal) burn. The pollutant also originates from factories that produce chemicals or paper. Similar to nitrogen dioxide, this pollutant reacts in the air to form particles and acid rain. The main health effects associated with high exposure levels include respiratory illness and difficulty breathing, especially on people with emphysema or asthma. The gas can also cause nose and throat irritation. The main sources of emissions in Canada are fuel combustion for heating and electricity generation as well as processes in the gas and oil industry. In 2013, Canada's sulfur oxide emissions reduced by 1.6% largely due to the government's efforts to combat acid rain. Bear in mind that sulfur dioxide can also harm crops and trees. Additionally, sulfur oxides can react with other atmospheric compounds to produce small particles, which can penetrate into the lungs.

Carbon monoxide

The gas originates from fossil burning, mostly in vehicles. You'll realize that emissions are typically higher when you don't tune engines properly. While vehicles emit considerable carbon monoxide (CO) outdoors, household heaters and furnaces can also emit elevated concentrations due to lack of proper maintenance. The pollutant can cause harmful effects by decreasing oxygen delivery to body organs such as the brain and heart. The gas can even cause death at very high levels. You can't detect it without a carbon monoxide detector because it's odorless and colorless. While this gas can be present during any time of the year, the risk is higher during cold weather in places such as Canada. This is because Canadians typically use furnaces, wood stoves, and water heaters to heat their homes. According to research, Canada's CO emissions were 63% lower in 2013 than in 1990. The decline is mostly due to a decrease in emissions from transportation and off-road cars because of the progressive introduction of cleaner and more effective vehicle technology.

Greenhouse Gases

These gases remain in the air for an extended period, causing global warming by trapping sunlight. Some of the main greenhouse gases are nitrous oxide and methane. While nitrous oxide originates from decaying plants and industrial sources, the release of methane occurs throughout fossil fuel processing. Greenhouse gases are the major cause of the evident climate change since mid-20th century. Bear in mind that the gases are not only a danger to the environment but also affect agriculture. If you think these gases don't have a huge impact on human health, you'll discover they do. If you require assistance with air quality issues, please contact us for a solution (416) 414-5690

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