Primary Air Pollutants: Their Sources and Effects on Human Health

By | January 17, 2017

Earth’s Primary Air Pollutants are carbon monoxide, nitrogen mono oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, Hydrocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons. Sources of these airs and their effects on human health are listed in the article below in tabular form.

Pollutant Natural source Anthropogenic source Known or suspected effect
Carbon Monoxide Unnoticeable Fuel-rich and stoichiometric combustion mainly from motor vehicles. Reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood by combining with hemoglobin, thus deprives tissues of 02.
Nitrogen oxides (NO) and (NO2) Lightning and bacterial activity in soils High-temperature combustion mainly from motor vehicles Cause eye, throat, and lung irritation. Primary pollutants that produce photochemical smog and acid rain, destroy ozone at the stratosphere.
Particulates Forest fires, wind erosion, and volcanic eruptions Coal, waste, and fossil burning Breathing difficulties
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) Volcanic eruptions and decay Coal combustion, ore smelters, petroleum refineries, and diesel engines Causes eye, throat, and lung irritation. Primary pollutants that produce acid rain
Ozone (O3) Lightning and photochemical reactions in the troposphere Product of photochemical reaction in photochemical smog Causes eye, throat, and lung irritation, impairs lung function
Carbon dioxide (CO2) Animal respiration, decay, and release from oceans Fossil-fuel and wood combustion Partly responsible for the atmospheric greenhouse effect
Hydrocarbons other than methane (VOCs), Biological processes Incomplete combustion and volatiles Primary pollutants that produce photochemical smog
Methane Anaerobic decay, cud-chewing animals (cows, sheep, etc.), and oil wells Natural-gas leak and combustion Partly responsible for the atmospheric greenhouse effect.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) None Used as a solvent, aerosol propellant, and refrigerant Destroy ozone at the stratosphere, thus reduce the ozone UV protective layer.