|Air Pollution and Health Ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfates, lead and fine particulate sources, effects, prevention, and control ARB Fact Sheet|
|Updated October 29, 2001|
Where does air pollution come from? How does it effect people and the environment? How can we control, or better yet, prevent it?
The following table summarizes the sources, effects, and prevention and control methods for ten of the most important air pollutants in California.
Prevention and Control
Formed when reactive organic gases (ROG) and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of sunlight. ROG sources include any source that burns fuels (e.g., gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil);solvents; petroleum processing and storage; and pesticides
Breathing difficulties, lung tissue damage, damage to rubber and some plastics.
Reduce motor vehicle reactive organic gas (ROG) and nitrogen oxide emissions through emissions standards, reformulated fuels, inspections programs, and reduced vehicle use. Limit ROG emissions from commercial operations and consumer products. Limit ROG and NOx emissions from industrial sources such as power plants and refineries. Conserve energy
Respirable Particulate Matter (PM10)
Road dust, windblown dust, agriculture and construction, fireplaces. Also formed from other pollutants (acid rain, NOx, SOx, organics). Incomplete combustion of any fuel.
Increased respiratory disease, lung damage, cancer, premature death, reduced visibility, surface soiling.
Control dust sources, industrial particulate emissions, wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Reduce secondary pollutants which react to form PM10. Conserve energy
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)
Fuel combustion in motor vehicles, equipment, and industrial sources; residential and agricultural burning. Also formed from reaction of other pollutants (acid rain, NOx, SOx, organics).
Increases respiratory disease, lung damage, cancer, premature death; reduced visibility; surface soiling.
Reduce combustion emissions from motor vehicles, equipment, industries, and agriculture and residential burning. Precursor controls, like those for ozone, reduce fine particle formation in the atmosphere.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Any source that burns fuel such as automobiles,trucks, heavy construction equipment and farming equipment, residential heating.
Chest pain in heart patients, headaches, reduced mental alertness
Control motor vehicle and industrial emissions. Use oxygenated gasoline during winter months. Conserve energy.
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
See Carbon Monoxide
Lung irritation and damage. Reacts in the atmosphere to form ozone and acid rain
Control motor vehicle and industrial combustion emissions.Conserve energy.
Metal smelters, resource recovery, leaded gasoline, deterioration of lead paint
Learning disabilities, brain and kidney damage
Control metal smelters, No lead in gasoline. Replace leaded paint with non-lead substitutes.
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
Coal or oil burning power plants and industries, refineries, diesel engines
Increases lung disease and breathing problems for asthmatics. Reacts in the atmosphere to form acid rain.
Reduce the use of high sulfer fuels (e.g., use low sulfer reformulated diesel or natural gas). Conserve energy.
Visibility Reducing Particles
Reduces visibility ( e.g., obscures mountains and other scenery), reduced airport safety, lower real estate value, discourages tourism
Produced by the reaction in the air of SO2 ( see SO2 sources), a component of acid rain
Breathing difficulties, aggravates asthma, reduced visibility
Geothermal power plants, petroleum production and refining, sewer gas
Nuisance odor (rotten egg smell), headache and breathing difficulties (higher concentrations)
Control emissions from geothermal power plants, petroleum production and refining, sewers, sewage treatment plants