“Source – SUSTENT Consulting Pvt. Ltd
Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the factory, air pollution poses a major threat to health and climate. The section below will discuss in detail about air pollution, its sources, types and impacts on human health.
5.1 Understanding Air Pollution (including Indoor Air Pollution)
Understanding the air around you is a challenge.
Answer the following questions to better understand the air around you:
If the answer is yes, it implies that you are being affected by air pollution.
Ambient air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases1. Air quality is closely linked to the earth’s climate and ecosystems globally. Many of the drivers of air pollution (i.e., combustion of fossil fuels) are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Source of Air Pollution
The sources of air pollution include:
Figure 1: Sources of Air Pollution
Source: STENUM Asia
Likewise, the indoor sources of air pollution include tobacco smoke, combustion activities, building material, outdoor sources, fire retardant material etc.
Types of Air Pollutants:
Outdoor Air Pollutants
As per Clean air Act 1970, United States Environment Pollution Act (USEPA) has defined six criteria pollutants2 i.e.-
Table 1: Outdoor Air Pollutants and Emission Sources
|Pollutant Type||Major Sources of Emission|
|Carbon monoxide (CO)||Vehicles, incomplete fuel combustion, unvented gas leak|
|ground level ozone (O3)||Emitted due to photochemical reaction between Volatile Organic Carbons (VOCs) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight.|
|sulphur dioxide (SO2)||Fossil fuel combustion at power plants, volcanic eruption, burning of fuel with high S content|
|Lead (Pb)||Ore and metals processing, lead smelters, lead acid battery manufactures, waste streams|
|Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)||Vehicles and power plants|
|Particulate Matter (PM)||Construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires, power plants and automobiles|
Indoor Air Pollutants
Table 2: Outdoor Air Pollutants and Emission Sources3
|Pollutant Type||Source of Emission|
|Allergens||House dust, domestic animals, insects|
|Asbestos||Fire retardant materials, insulation|
|Carbon dioxide||Metabolic activity, combustion activities, motor vehicles in garages|
|Carbon monoxide||Fuel burning, boilers, stoves, gas or kerosene heaters, tobacco smoke|
|Organic substances||Adhesives, solvents, building materials, volatilization, combustion,
paints, tobacco smoke
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)||Fuel combustion, tobacco smoke|
3Jones, A.P., 1999. Indoor air quality and health. Atmospheric environment, 33(28), Indoor air quality and health – ScienceDirect; www.sciencedirect.com
The major air pollutants of concern in food and beverage industry include Particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.
Figure 2: Key Pollutants in Indoor Air
Source: Tips to control indoor air quality
5.2 Understanding the Effects of Air Pollution on Environment and Health
Figure 3: Health Effects of Air Pollution
The environmental impacts include: