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Air Pollution: Particulate Pollutants

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Air Pollution: Particulate Pollutants - Lesson Summary

Pollution is the harmful effect on the environment that can prove fatal to all living organisms, is caused by the contamination of the air, water and soil by harmful substances (pollutants).

Pollutants can be solid, liquid or gas, and originate from human actions and natural sources.

Harmful waste products discarded by humans degenerate in nature. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly called DDT, heavy metals, many chemicals and plastic, are among such pollutants.

Plastic bags take millions of years to degrade, and, hence, do not mix with the soil or water results in soil and water pollution.

Global warming and acid rains are some outcomes of air pollution.

Air pollution takes place in two different layers of the earth's atmosphere: the troposphere and the stratosphere.

The troposphere is the lowest region of the earth's atmosphere in which living organisms live.

It extends up to 10Km above sea level.

Formation of clouds takes place in the troposphere. Particulate matter and gaseous pollutants cause pollution in this region.

The major gaseous pollutants of the atmosphere are harmful gaseous oxides and major particulate pollutants are dust, mist and smoke.

The harmful gaseous oxides include the oxides of sulphur, nitrogen, and carbon, besides hydrocarbons.

The most common oxide among them is sulphur dioxide.

This gas is poisonous for living organisms and causes respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema in humans.

The most common pollutant of nitrogen gas, nitrogen dioxide produced when fossil fuels are burnt in high.

Nitric oxide also reacts with the ozone in the earth's atmosphere to form nitrogen dioxide.

Nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory diseases in children, irritate the eyes, lungs and throat, and damage the leaves of plants, affecting their photosynthesis.

An increase in the level of the oxides of sulphur and nitrogen makes the pH value of rain water drop below 5.6.

The Taj Mahal, the beautiful monument in India, is being disfigured and rendered lustreless by acid rain.

Hydrocarbons produced as a result of incomplete combustion of fuels in automobile engines.

In animals hydrocarbons can cause cancer while in plants they cause aging by breaking down tissues.

Carbon monoxide is produced by automobile exhaust and incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

This highly poisonous gas combines with haemoglobin in blood, forming carboxyhaemoglobin.

When the concentration of carboxyhaemoglobin reaches three to four percent, it reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

Carbon dioxide is perhaps the most commonly known air pollutant that is produced in respiration, burning of fossil fuels and decomposition of limestone.

An increase in carbon dioxide leads to an increase in the average global temperature. This is known as global warming.

Global warming brings in various deadly diseases like dengue, malaria and yellow fever to mankind.


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