Airborne Particulate Matter: Source Scenario and Their Impact on Human Health and Environment

Airborne Particulate Matter: Source Scenario and Their Impact on Human Health and Environment

Bhawna Dubey (Amity University, India), Asim Kumar Pal (ISM, India) and Gurdeep Singh (ISM, India)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1683-5.ch012
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Airborne particulate matter is considered to be most challenging environmental issues in the world today due to its impact on various atmospheric processes like regional and global climate change, ecosystem, agriculture and most importantly on human health in recent times. Analysis reveals that particulate matter contains various inorganic and organic compounds and biological entities and their secretions and toxic trace metals. The main regions affected are urban centers due to an increasing population, number of diverse industries, fossil fuel driven vehicles and various construction activities. The present chapter deals with the scenario of particulate matter, their sources of generation, size and their impact on human health and environment mainly in urban dwellings.
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Airborne small, solid particles and liquid droplets are commonly known as particulates. Ambient particulate matter (aerodynamic size varying from 1 nm to 100 μm) have been of much concern in present decade and has turn out to be utmost challenging environmental issues worldwide as a consequence of its impact on various atmospheric processes (regional and global climate change) and effect on human health (Charlson et al., 1992; Charlson et al., 1995; Pope et al., 1992; Baker et al., 2011). Particulate matter (PM) is treated as a vital indicator of air pollution which has carried into the air as of a diverse natural and anthropogenic source. Being smaller in size (PM10) and light weight it can travel to distant area in the air and have been put under study in the past, as it can be breathed easily leading to its deposition in the respiratory system and acts as a major factor responsible for reduced lung functions and other cardio-vascular anomalies and play a crucial part in the occurrence and severity of respiratory diseases. (Alleman et al., 2010; Pope et al., 1995; Pope & Dockery, 1999; Brunekreef & Holgate, 2002). It was estimated that the direct result of air pollution and its effects on lungs and pulmonary system leads to more than two million casualties every year worldwide and it can be aggravated by the atmospheric conditions (Shah et al., 2013; Cheng et al., 2009). In comparison to more common gaseous air pollutants the human health is at more threat by the presence of PM which comprises of a divergent mixture of solid and liquid particles that varied in texture and concomitant chemicals suspended in air that keep on changing spatially and diurnally (WHO, 2013). It is found that the diverse constituents of PM contain different chemicals that includes:

  • Sulphates,

  • Nitrates,

  • Carbon particles (elemental and organic),

  • Biological compounds (e.g., endotoxin, cell fragments);

  • Organic compounds (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and metals (e.g., iron, copper, nickel, zinc, and vanadium) (WHO, 2013).

Combustion of fossil fuels, industries, power plants and emissions from gasoline fueled vehicles running on roads are the primary anthropogenic causes of air pollutants in the urban air and industrial areas (Zhang et al., 2007). With the developing industry of mining, smelting and metal treatment, air pollution gets stern (Wang et al., 2001; Guo, 1994; Su et al., 1994; Wu et al., 1989; Liao, 1993). Airborne trace metals (linked with PM), are associated with several of the short-term and long-term ill effects on human health including:

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