Understanding The Health Effects And Causes Of Air Pollution

Published: 2010-10-25, Last Modified:

Following the massive spill of caustic and toxic sludge from a ruptured aluminum mine waste reservoir in Hungary, attention quickly turned to the subsequent dangers of air pollution from the dust of the drying sludge. A story in the US also surfaced regarding the same form of dust and its potential effects on those living in proximity to US metal processing plants. In both cases, the concerns about air pollution from this dust arise because people can see the dust moving in the air and accumulating on all manner of objects.

While the dangers experienced by those in Hungary and in the US due to exposure to this red dust may well prove to be significant, it is not just these individuals who are at risk from the breathing such dust particles. Particulate matter, the fine dust in the air that we breath, can originate from numerous sources and some of these are far more common than metal processing plants meaning that many more of us are at risk.

What Are Some Common Causes Of Particulate Air Pollution?

Particles In The Air From Burning Diesel

Among the sources of particulate matter, one very common contributor is diesel fuel combustion. While newer diesel vehicles are dramatically reducing the the amount of particulates entering the air, many older diesel vehicles are still on the road. At the same time, numerous commercial and industrial diesel vehicles will be around for some time and their replacements do not face the same rigorous government standards as the vehicles that most of us drive daily.

To get an understanding of how much particulate matter a diesel vehicle can generate, according to research from Stanford University, some diesel vehicles can produces 25 to 400 times the particulate matter of gasoline powered vehicles. The result is that particulates from diesel exhaust are often in the air being breathed by those living in urban settings.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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