||April 17, 2014|
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Air Quality and Your Health
In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the two most important pollutants that threaten human health are ground-level ozone and particle pollution. If you are a typical adult, you'll breathe in close to 3,500 gallons of air in a single day. If your atmosphere is polluted with ozone and particle pollution, you may see your lung function reduced by as much as 20 percent.
Ground-level ozone is a colorless gas that can be found in the air we breathe. It is formed through a complex chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight. Sources of manmade VOCs and NOx include: 1) automobiles, trucks and buses; 2) gasoline storage and transfer; 3) large combustion and industry sources such as utilities; 4) industrial use of solvents and degreasing agents; 5) consumer products such as paints and cleaners; and 6) off-road engines such as aircraft, locomotives, boats, construction equipment and lawn and garden equipment. VOC's are also produced naturally by certain types of vegetation.Who is considered most at risk from exposure to ground-level ozone?
What is particulate
matter? Where does it come from?
"Particulate matter" is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. These particles come in a wide range of sizes. Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter tend to pose the greatest health concern because they can be inhaled and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter are termed "fine" particles. Some particles are directly emitted into the air. They come from a variety of sources such as cars, trucks, buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone crushing, and burning of wood. Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor. These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes.What are the health effects and who is most at risk from exposure to particulate matter?
Contact the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Air Quality Hotline:
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