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What's in the Air You Breathe?

Posted in Air Quality, on August 24, 2015 By Admin

Are you aware of the pollutants you're exposed to in your residential area? Perhaps it's time you identified the air quality in your environment. Air pollution comprises particles or chemicals in the atmosphere that can potentially harm humans, plants, and animals. Air pollutants take numerous forms including gases and solid particles. While air pollution is mostly associated with urban environments, this problem also affects those who dwell in rural areas. If you're curious about the air you breathe, check this out.

Pollutants in Urban Cities

Although most cities have witnessed an improvement in air quality due to national and local initiatives, air quality is still problematic in numerous cities. Common pollutants in cities include:

Particulate Matter

Airborne particulate matter differs widely in its chemical and physical composition, particle size, and source. While small particles can easily penetrate into your lungs and potentially cause considerable health risks, the removal of large particles from the air is relatively efficient. Particles can cause eye, throat, and nose irritation. Some of the bigger particles reaching your throat or nose will undergo filtration through your body's natural defense. However, the very small particles that penetrate the lung may undergo absorption into the blood stream, causing lung or other medical problems.


The emission of ground-level ozone doesn't occur directly into the air. However, it's a secondary pollutant generated by reaction between nitrogen dioxide, sunlight, and hydrocarbons. Compared to rural areas, the levels of this pollutant are not as high. Sunlight offers the energy to initiate ozone development. Consequently, high ozone levels are evident during hot weather. Moreover, high concentrations are often problematic in climates, for instance in southern Europe. In northern Europe, higher concentrations occur in rural areas. This is because ozone production takes place in polluted air as it moves away from cities. While ozone can cause damage to vegetation and crops, its activity is such that indoor concentrations undergo rapid reduction by reaction with fabrics and plastics.

Nitrogen oxides

The term describes a combination of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). The formation of the inorganic gases occurs through the combination of nitrogen with oxygen from the air. The production of nitric oxide occurs in much larger quantities than nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide has detrimental effects on the bronchial system and its concentrations often approach and at times surpass standards of air quality in numerous European cities. The emission of nitrogen oxides occurs during the burning of fuel e.g. in industrial processes, transport, and power generation.

Pollutants in Rural Areas

While people mostly associate air pollution with urban environments, rural areas are also vulnerable to pollution sources and secondary effects from urban environments. People residing in rural areas face medical threats posed by three kinds of air pollution: that produced in the home through simple cooking fuels; external pollution from urban and rural sources; and secondary pollutants, which develop when atmospheric conditions elicit chemical reactions in atmospheric emissions.

Sulphur Dioxide

This is one of the various forms of sulphur's existence atmospherically. The major source of this pollutant is the combustion of fuels comprising sulfur. Fossil fuels, in particular, oil and coal, comprise differing amounts of sulfur depending on their source. The major sources of this pollutant, especially in less developed nations include coal burning, the use of automotive diesel and fuel oils.

Carbon Monoxide

This is one of the most widely distributed and common air pollutants. Its formation occurs throughout the partial combustion of carbon-containing fuels. The concentration of this gas indoors and other closed settings can rise to fatal and dangerous levels rapidly and unnoticeably. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common source of death and injury due to poisoning globally. Poisoning is usually more common throughout the winter months, perhaps due to the increased use of kitchen stoves and gas furnaces throughout the winter months. If you think you breathe cleaner air because you're in the urban or rural areas, this guide may reveal otherwise. If you're experiencing air quality issues, kindly contact us for a solution (416) 414-5690

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