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Air Quality-Air Pollution Introduction In the past with air pollution we included mainly the outdoor pollutants although in recent years this is not the case Today we separate pollutants in to two categories Primary pollutants because they come directly from various sources and secondary which are by-products of chemical interactions of the primary pollutants within the atmosphere Particulates Although air pollution might be thought of as unwanted gases in the atmosphere two of five primary pollutants are really solid substances called particulates Soot has always been a sure indicator of a polluted atmosphere but other than soiling and a negative psychological effect soot cant settle into the lungs and cause serious diseases Thick black smoke coming out of a stack is that what we think causes the pollution but what really creates the damage is what we cant see Particles like this are called suspended particles They come from many incomplete burning and can consist a variety of substances The most harmful type of particulate is so small that that it is microscopic All the particulates are harmful for several reasons When inhaled they can damage the interior of the lung they can also be poisonous Sometimes gases will glue to their surfaces and in a process called adsorption they can reach the lungs All these particles are mainly products of combustion The major sources include industrial processes power plants that are both coal and oil-fired residential heating and transportation But coal burning is the greatest source Table 1 below shows estimates of US particulate emissions from various sources TABLE 1National US Emissions Estimates-1990 Million metric tonsyear Only 13 of the total is generated by transportation Industrial sources account for nearly three times as much as 37 Fires account for just about as much particulate emissions as transportation That amount is matched by combustion from sources which include the generation of all heat and electricity httpenvironmentsearchwhocom Emissions When coal
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