air pollution indoor

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Indoor Air PollutionIndoor Air pollutionIndoor pollution 2-5 times greater than outdoor pollution

Well insulated buildings in warm climates allow buildup

People spend 70-98% time indoors

Sick building syndromedizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigueNew buildings sick more often than older buildingsOffgassingInsert Fig 20-13

4 Most Dangerous Indoor PollutantsCigarette smoke

formaldehyde (from particle board, carpet, paneling, furniture)

radon-222 gas (natural decay of uranium releases gas in ground)

Very small fine and ultrafine particles

FormaldehydeColorless, extremely irritating gas used to manufacture common household materials

20-40 million Americans suffer from chronic breathing problems, dizziness, headaches, rashes, sinus & eye irritation and nausea from daily exposure to low levels

Sources: building materials, plastics, furniture, adhesives in carpeting and wallpaper, drapes, wrinkle free coating on clothing

Formaldehyde1 ounce dose at 37% formaldehyde = lethal

allows no more than 16ppb formaldehyde in the air in new buildings constructed for that agency.

Homes will often measure 0.076 ppm when brand new and 0.045 ppm after 30 days.

Radon-222Colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive

Comes from the decay of uranium-238

common in granite, phosphate, uranium, shale soils & rocks

when rocks breakdown gas is released, normally filters through soil & diluted in atmosphere

problem if seeps into buildings; can potentially increase the risk cancer


Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer after smoking!

Ultrafine ParticlesSmaller than 100 nanometers, carbon based or metallicOutdoor sources: volcanic lava, ocean spray, and smokeIndoor sources: laser printers, fax machines, photocopiers, the peeling of citrus fruits, cooking, tobacco smoke, penetration of contaminated outdoor air, chimney cracks and vacuum cleaners

Not effectively captured by most air pollution control equipment

Small enough to penetrate body defenses

Bring other cancer/toxic substances into body

Can cause chronic irritation that can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate lung disease and cause lung cancerinterfere with bloods uptake of oxygen and release of CO2, which strains the heart and increases the risk of death from heart disease

AsbestosInitially next best thingwas used extensively due to extreme resistance to heatfirefighters uniforms, building walls, ceilings, SCHOOLS etc

Microscopic fibers decay-cannot be broken down by body when inhaledlodges in lung and saws lung tissue over time lung cancer172,000 Americans have died prematurely due to asbestos exposureMesothelioma

Major health risk today concerning asbestos:Among miners and workers in developing countries

Remodeling, Tear-out, Demolition workers

90% of these deaths can be prevented by:Wearing a maskWetting asbestosChanging clothes before and after handling

Ways Body Protects Us From Air PollutionHairs in nose

Sticky mucus in lining of upper respiratory tract

Sneezing and coughing

Cilia in upper respiratory tract

BUT prolonged exposure can overload our defenses.

Air pollution health concerns Air pollution can lead to:lung cancerasthmachronic bronchitis (often in children of smokers)Chronic obstructive pulmonary disordersemphysema- loss of lung elasticity cant pull in air

Smoking makes all exposure worse-concentrated radiation of lungs breaks down natural defenses

Air quality legislationClean Air Acts -1970 (1st major environmental law in US) 1977, 1990

EPA established NAAQS (national ambient air quality standards)addresses acceptable levels of each pollutant

Focuses on pollution clean-up rather than prevention

Allows for SO2 emissions tradingEnables the 110 most polluting power plants in 21 states to buy and sell SO2 pollution rightsCap and Trade Emissions trading Each year a coal burning plant is given a certain number of emmission permits (called: allowances)

Enacted as per the Acid Rain program of the Clean Air Act (1990)

SO2 emissions were reduced by 50% from 1980 levels by 2007

experts argue that the cap-and-trade system of SO2 emissions reduction has reduced the cost of controlling acid rain by as much as 80% versus source-by-source reduction

Coal plants that emit less than limit have a surplus of credits and can sell to other utilities, transfer to another plant, or bank for the future

Problem: overallocation setting the bar too low by setting the cap too high. Allows for banking of credits