Polluted air in general contains one or more hazardous substances that create hazards for the health of living individuals. Pollutants within the air are measured in terms of particulate matter (PM); or the number of particles of potentially hazardous substances as a percentage of air. Outdoor air pollutants can create acid rain, which affects the environment and depletion of the ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), which increases the risk of skin cancer and cataracts in human individuals. Indoor air pollution seems to have more of a significant affect on health than outdoor air pollution; considering the fact that most people spend more of their time indoors than out (1).
Many indoor pollutants include carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, radon gas, animal dander, mercury vapor, consumer products that release chemicals into the air, bacteria, mold and a huge indoor pollutant; lead. Pollution of the air can affect our health in two ways which are categorized as both short term and long term effects. Short term effects are irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. Upper respiratory infections, like bronchitis and pneumonia as well as having headaches, allergic reactions, nausea and aggravating individuals with asthma and emphysema are all short term effects. An example of all these short term symptoms occurred in London in 1952, four thousand people died in a few days due to the high concentrations of pollution. This tragedy was called the "Smog Disaster"(2).
Long term affects of air pollution are; chronic heart disease, respiratory disease, lung cancer, damage to the nerves, brain, liver and kidneys. The continued long term exposure of pollution in the air can have drastic affects on the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. Many different groups of individuals are affected by air pollution in different ways. Some individuals are much more sensitive to pollutants than others. For example, young children and elderly people often suffer more from the effects of air pollution. People with health problems such as asthma, heart and lung disease may also suffer more when there is pollution in the air.
In terms of particulate matter and its affects on health, there are a wide range of pollutants such as; sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and lead. All of these substances have drastic health affects on an individual's body. Sulfur dioxide, for example, is produced by the combustion of sulfur containing fuels such as coal which can irritate the respiratory tract. Sulfur dioxide can then stick to fine particulates in the air, greatly increasing the potential cause for respiratory damage. Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas that is present especially in automobile emission. Carbon monoxide has a severe interference with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood in the body and is especially harmful to people with cardiovascular disease, majority of people which are elderly...