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History of Air Pollution

1272 - King Edward I of England bans use of sea coal

1377 1399 - Richard II restricts use of coal

1413 1422 - Henry V regulates/restricts use of coal

1661 - By royal command of Charles II, John Evelyn of the Royal Society publishes Fumifugium; or the
Inconvenience of the Air and Smoke dissipated; together with Some Remedies Humbly Proposed

1784Watts steam engine; boilers to burn fossil fuels (coal) to make steam to pump water and move

Smoke and ash from fossil fuels by power plants, trains, ships: coal (and oil) burning = smoke, ash

1907 - Formation of the predecessor to the Air & Waste Management Association

1930 - 1950s - Air Pollution Episodes

1955 First Federal Air Pollution Control Act - funds for research (USA)

1960 Motor Vehicle Exhaust Act - funds for research (USA)

1963 Clean Air Act (USA)

-Three stage enforcement
-Funds for state and local agencies

1965 Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act (USA)

-Emission regulations for cars to begin in 1968

1967 Air Quality Act (USA)

-Criteria documents
-Control technique documents

1970 Clean Air Act Amendments (USA)

-National Ambient Air Quality Standards
-New Source Performance Standards

Why study air pollution ?

Early 1900s The City of Chicago, Illinois passes an ordinance to reduce the smoke emitted by local factories.

1940s Los Angeles, California becomes one of the first cities in the U.S. to experience severe air pollution
problems then called gas attacks. L.A.s location in a basin like area ringed by mountains makes it susceptible
to accumulation of auto exhaust and emissions from local petroleum refineries

1948 Air pollution kills in Donora, Pennsylvania. An unusual temperature inversion lasting six days blocks
dispersal of emissions from zinc smelting and blast furnaces. Out of a total population of 14,000 people, 20 die,
600 others become ill, and 1400 seek medical attention.

1950 A chemist at the California Institute of Technology proposes a theory of smog (or ozone) formation in
which auto exhaust and sunlight play major roles.

1954 An early public protest against air pollution takes place in East Greenville, Pennsylvania. Homemakers
march on the town council to demand that a local casket manufacturer be required to stop polluting. Their
complaint is that clean laundry hung out to dry became dirtier than before it was washed because of high levels
of soot (or particulates) in the air.

1962 Silent Spring is published. Rachel Carsons powerful book draws the attention of the American public to
the potential consequences of the increasing ability of human activities to significantly and even permanently
alters the natural world.

1966 In New York City, a three-day temperature inversion over Thanksgiving weekend is blamed for the deaths
of 168 people.

1969 Millions of Americans watch via satellite, as Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon.
The same weekend, a very different news story startles the nation. Sulfur dioxide pollution emitted by industries
near Gary, Indiana and East Chicago becomes potent acid rain that burns lawns, eats away tree leaves, and
causes birds to lose their feathers.

1969 A vivid color photographs of Earth from space, widely distributed, shifts human perceptions of our planet.
The Earth no longer seems vast but is recognized as a small, fragile ball of life in the immense infinitude of cold,
black space.

1970 The first Earth Day becomes part of American history. Millions of students and citizens attend rallies to
learn about environmental concerns and speak for environmental protection.

1972 Representatives of 113 nations, gather on 5th June at a United Nations Conference on the Human
Environment in Stockholm to develop plans for international action to protect the world environment.

1978 Rainfall in Wheeling, West Virginia is measured at a pH of 2, the most acidic yet recorded and 5000 times
more acidic than normal rainfall.

1981 Air pollution enters international politics when the Quebec Ministry of the Environment notifies the U.S.
that 60 percent of the acid rain (sulfur dioxide pollution) damaging air and waters in Quebec, Canada comes
from the U.S. industrial sources in the Midwestern and Northeastern U.S.

1982 The National Center for Health Statistics releases a study indicating that four percent of all U.S.
schoolchildren, including about 12 percent of all African-American preschoolers, have high levels of lead in their
blood. About 675,000 children are at risk of kidney damage, brain damage, anemia, retardation, and other ills
associated with lead poisoning. It is recognized that children absorb this lead by breathing air laden with lead
pollution, primarily from leaded gasoline.

1985 The U.S. EPA estimates 50,000 streams in the U.S. and Canada are dead or dying because of acid rain

1986 The National Academy of Sciences reports that the burning of coal, gasoline, and other fossil fuels is
definitely linked to acid rain and the death of trees, fish, and lake ecosystems in both the U.S. and Canada.

1992 The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the most comprehensive international conference on the
environment to date. Representatives from 188 countries and 35,000 participants attend. Two treaties are
signed by all except the U.S. One, on global warming recommending curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
The second, on making inventories of plants and wildlife and strategies to protect endangered species.

Air Pollution Episodes

Period of poor air qulaity, upto several days, often extending over large geograpical
Winter: cold, stable weather conditions trap pollutants close to sources and
prevent dispersion. Elavated concentrations of range of pollutants build up over
several days
Summer: hot and sunny weather. Pollutants emitted within the U.K. or Europe
transported long distances, reacting with each other in sunlight to produce high
levels of ozone, & other photochemical pollutants.

Meuse Valley-Belgium, 1930

63 died (mostly elderly)

Sore throats, shortness of breath, cough, phlegm,

nausea, vomiting

SO2, sulfur dioxide


SO4 sulfuric acid mist

Cattle, birds and rats died

Got little news coverage

Fumigation of a valley floor caused by an inversion layer that restricts diffusion from a stack

Donora, PennsylvaniaOct. 1948

Monongahela River Valley

Industrial townsteel mill, sulfuric

acid plant, freight yard, etc.


Steep hills surrounding the valley

Oct 26temperature inversion (warm

air trapping cold air near the ground)

Stable air, fog, lasted 4.5 days

Environs of Donora, Pennsylvania. Horseshoe curve of Monongahela River is surrounded by mountains. Railroad tracks
are located on both sides of the river. Low-lying stretch of Monongahela valley between railroad and river is natural trap
for pollutants.

Poza Rico, Mexico 1950

Single source high sulfur crude oil

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)

Flare went out

Inversion in valley

22 sudden deaths, 320 hospitalized All ages

Forerunner of Bhopal

December 1952 Great London Smog

Cold front, Londoners burned soft coal

Factories, power plants

Temperature inversion

5 days of worst smog city had ever seen Public

transportation stopped

Indoor concerts had to be cancelled because no one could

see the stage, etc.

Weekly death registered from diseases of the lungs and heart in the London Administrative County around the time of

the severe fog in December, 1952.

Total death in Greater London and air pollutants levels measured during the fog of December 1952

Seveso, Italy --Dioxin

July 10, 1976, north of Milan

A valve broke at the Industrie Chimiche Meda Societa Azionaria chemical plant

Cloud of 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD) traveled southwest through Seveso toward Milan

Contaminant of herbicide

Bhopal, India Dec. 3, 1984

Union Carbide pesticide plant leak kills

up to 2,000 with up to 350,000 injured
and 100,000 with permanent disabilities

Methyl isocyanate (MIC)used as an

intermediary in manufacture of Sevin

CO + Cl = phosgene

Phosgene + methylamine = MIC

MICirritant to the lungs---edema, fluid

(cause of death, bronchospasms,
corneal opacity

Hydrogen cyanide?

Sabotage or industrial accident?

World-wide Air Pollution Episode

November 27-December 10, 1962

Thousands of excess deaths in many cities including NYC, London, Boston, Paris

New Orleans Oct-Nov 1958 asthma deaths.

Hundreds Troubled by 'World Trade Center Cough NYC fire fighters, school workers have 9/11 breathing
problems, new studies say

Air Pollution
Transfer of harmful and/or of Natural/Synthetic materials into the atmosphere as a
direct/indirect consequences of human activity (OECD).

Air Pollution Definition Based on System Approach

Types of Air Pollution

Personal air exposure

-It refers to exposure to dust, fumes and gases to which an individual exposes himself when he indulge himself
in smoking

Occupational air exposure

-It represents the type of exposure of individuals to potentially harmful concentration of aerosols, vapors, and
gases in their working environment.

Community air exposure

-This is most serious, complex, consists of varieties of assortment of pollution sources, meteorological factors,
and wide variety of adverse social, economical, and health effects.

The Earths Great Spheres

Lithosphere- The lithosphere contains all of the cold, hard solid land of the planet's crust (surface), the
semi-solid land underneath the crust, and the liquid land near the center of the planet

Hydrosphere- The hydrosphere contains all the solid, liquid, and gaseous water of the plane

Biosphere- The biosphere contains all the planet's living things. This sphere includes all of the
microorganisms, plants, and animals of Ear

Atmosphere- The atmosphere contains all the air in Earth's system


It is a mixture of gases that forms a layer of about 250 miles thick around the earth.
- Bottom 10-12 miles (Troposphere) is most important part in terms of


Other aspects of Biogeochemical cycle

- The lowest 600 meters of Troposphere: Air Quality Studies

Composition of Air - 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% carbon dioxide, water, other gases

Divided into four zones:

- Troposphere
- Stratosphere
- Mesosphere
- Thermosphere

Source of Air Pollution

Natural Sources Volcano, forest fire, dust storms, oceans, plants and trees

Anthropogenic Sources - created by human beings

-Stationary sources

Point sources (Industrial processing, power plants, fuels combustion etc.)

Area sources (Residential heating coal gas oil, on site incineration, open burning etc.)

- Mobile sources

Line sources (Highway vehicles, railroad locomotives, channel vessels etc.)

Air Pollutants
Any substance occurring in the
atmosphere that may have adverse
effects on humans, animals, plant
life, and/or inanimate materials.

Air pollutants have known or

suspected harmful effects on
human health and tironment.

Criteria Air Pollutants

Based on health effects with measured air quality levels that violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards


Hazardous Air Pollutants

Predecessor: National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs)

Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 directed EPA to establish emission controls for 189 chemicals listed in the
-NOT based on health criteria
-Based on Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT)

Non-Criteria Pollutants

In essence, all pollutants not included in the NAAQS and HAP lists


Air Pollutants

Primary air pollutants - Materials that when released pose health risks in their unmodified forms or those
emitted directly from identifiable sources.

Secondary air pollutants - Primary pollutants interact with one another, sunlight, or natural gases to produce
new, harmful compounds

Primary Air Pollutants

Five major materials released directly into the atmosphere in unmodified forms.
-Carbon monoxide
-Sulfur dioxide
-Nitrogen oxides
-Particulate matter

Carbon Monoxide

Produced by burning of organic material (coal, gas, wood,

trash, etc.)

Automobiles biggest source (80%)

Cigarette smoke another major source

Toxic because binds to hemoglobin, reduces oxygen in blood

Not a persistent pollutant, combines with oxygen to form CO 2

Most communities now meet EPA standards, but rush hour

1. Can you explain the word episode used in air pollution?
2. Can you think why mountains in a basin like area make the pollutants susceptible to accumulation?
3. Can you tell two words making the word smog?
4. Do you know that soot is unburnt/burnt carbon particle?
5. Why Earth Day is celebrated? Explain.
6. Can you explain the significance of World Environment Day?
7. What does Earth Summit's means?
8. Are CO and NOx indicators or pollutants?
9. Can you list direct/indirect consequences of human activity causing air pollution?
10. Differentiate among personal/occupational/community air exposure.
11. Is environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) personal/occupational / community exposures?
12. Explain various spheres of the Earth.
13. Explain various sources of air pollution.
14. Differentiate between troposphere/stratosphere/mesosphere. Which one is ideal for air pollution studies effecting
living beings?
15. Differentiate between criteria/non-criteria/hazardous pollutants . Why O3 is not taken as criteria pollutants?