The Alliance For A Clean Environment

Air Pollution 101

Sources and Pollutants
Air Pollution Monitoring

There are many different kinds of air pollution but air pollutants can be characterized in two ways - as Particulate Matter PM & Gases:

Particulate Matter: PM10, PM2.5, dust, heavy metals, lead, soot, other solids

PM can come from incinerator stacks, power plants, road traffic, construction, and many other sources. It is usually referred to by the largest particle's diameter. So PM10 refers to particulate matter smaller than 10 microns in diameter (a micron = 10-6 m = 1 millionth of a meter). Mechanically generated dust particles are generally larger and don't stay in the air too long. Particles that come from combustion sources are smaller so they tend to stay in the air longer and are worse for your health because they can settle into your lungs. There are currently national air quality standards for PM 10. New national standards for PM2.5 are being developed.

Gases: ammonia, chlorine, ozone (smog), NOx, CO2, sulfur gases, VOC's such as benzene, toluene etc.

Many air pollutants are not in solid form like PM but instead are found in gaseous form. These gases may react with sunlight and other gases in the air to form ground level ozone, or smog (not to be confused with ozone in the upper atmosphere which protects the earth from harmful UV rays). VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Organic refers to the presence of carbon in the molecule. Chemicals present in gasoline are VOC's because they are molecules of carbon and hydrogen atoms combined with other elements. Volatile refers to the fact that this chemical will change quickly from liquid to gas. That is why you see vapor recovery equipment on the gas pumps; it's to capture the liquid gasoline that has become gas and would normally escape into the air while you are pumping. Health effects of gaseous pollutants differ greatly. Many can cause breathing difficulties, some cause cancer and reproductive harm, some can cause harm to your nervous or immune system. The cumulative health effects from exposure to multiple VOC's have not been adequately studied and are poorly understood.

Organic/Inorganic Gases analyzed by EPA modified method TO-14, 81 Compounds

Organic/Inorganic Gases analyzed by EPA method TO-14, 43 Compounds

Sulfur Gases analyzed by modified EPA method 16 reduced sulfur gases, 20 Compounds

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source: Communities for a Better Environment

The Bucket Brigade Manual

To order send a check for $15 payable to:
Communities for a Better Environment
Attn: Bucket Brigade
1611 Telegraph Ave, Suite 450
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 302-0430

To receive a copy of the chemical compound list, please contact:

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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