Common Pollutants in the air and effect
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gets in the air from burning of fuel, from sources including emissions from vehicles and power plants. The 24-hour exposure limit of NO2 in India is 80 ug/m3. In Delhi this week minimum level of NO2 was recorded as 42 ug/m3 and maximum as157 ug/m3.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that short-term exposure to high levels of NO2 can aggravate respiratory diseases like asthma, and lead to other problems such as coughing or difficulty breathing. Long-term exposure may also contribute to development of asthma and could increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Ammonia (NH3) is another gaseous pollutant that is monitored, whose 24-hour exposure limit is 400 ug/m3. The average 24-hour range of NH3 this week in Delhi was between 9 and 28 ug/m3, as per CPCB data.
The EPA states that ammonia occurs naturally in air, soil and water, and is used as an agricultural fertiliser and in cleaning products. Short-term inhalation of high levels of ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns in the mouth, lungs and eyes. Chronic exposure to airborne ammonia can increase the risk of respiratory problems, including impaired lung function.
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter emitted from combustion of fossil fuels have, historically, been the main components of air pollution in many parts of the world. Short-term exposure to SO2 can harm respiratory system, making breathing more difficult. SO2 emissions in the air can also lead to formation of other sulphur oxides (SOx), which can react with other compounds in the atmosphere and form particulate matter.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic, colourless and odourless gas, given off when fuel containing carbon, such as wood, coal and petrol, are burned. CO can cause headache, dizziness, vomiting and nausea. If CO levels are high enough, a person may become unconscious and die. Long term exposure has been linked with increase risk of heart disease. more