Common Outdoor Air Pollutants
What's in Your Air?
Depending on where you live, there could be hundreds of toxic chemicals in the air you breathe. Our goal is for you to understand the sources and risks of these pollutants so that you can take steps to protect your self and your loved ones. Awareness, avoidance, and air purification will go a long way in making sure that these sources don't sneak up on you.
Ozone is a highly reactive molecule that can damage soft tissue in your lungs and cause irritation for your skin or eyes. Ozone occurs when noxious gases from combustion sources such as tailpipes and smokestacks come in contact with sunlight.
Ozone can cause shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and exacerbate existing problems such as COPD.
Avoid going outside when ozone levels are elevated, this can be a frequent issue especially if you live in an urban area with a lot of automobile traffic or manufacturing facilities.
Particle pollution refers to microscopic pieces of dust, debris and allergens that are so light, they float in the air for extended periods of time. Have you ever seen the dust particles floating in the air when sunlight comes through your blinds? This is particle pollution, but beyond the “big” pieces you can see, there are millions of microscopic that you can’t. It’s these microscopic pieces that enter your lungs and can even cross over into your bloodstream!
Keep an eye on particulate pollution levels, including allergen counts, with your local news. Avoid going outside for extended periods of time when levels are elevated. Keep an air purifier running at all times indoors.
While being extremely toxic isn’t already bad enough, NO2 is also a common component in the creation of ozone. NO2 comes from gases and fuels burned in combustion at high temperatures. Like ozone, it is an irritant that can cause lung or eye irritation, as well as contribute to asthma attacks or COPD.
Produced in automobile combustion, SO2 contributions to particulate matter pollution and can cause a wide range of harmful effects on the lungs.
Carbon Monoxide is so lethal because your body cannot tell the difference between it and oxygen. Instead of your red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout your body, if you inhale CO, your blood cells will transfer it around the body. However, your body cannot survive on CO and you suffocate internally. CO inhalation can cause sleepiness, nausea, confusion, and impaired coordination.
Toxic Air Pollutants
Pollutants such as benzene, toluene, dioxin, or asbestos as well as some elements such as mercury or chromium can all cause serious health effects. These are often produced in coal-fired power plants, industries and refineries.