The 6 criteria pollutants that the EPA has a focus on are Ground-level Ozone, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrogen Dioxide.
Ground-level Ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. Emissions that come from industrial facilities, electric plants, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of Ground-level Ozone. This Ozone can be associated with asthama and other types of lung diseases.
Particulate Matter is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope. This matter comes from power plants, industries and automobiles. Particulate Matter is the main cause haze that is seen in some larger cities. This is very harmful by getting inhaled into the lungs and bloodstream casuing a host of health problems.
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be harmful when inhaled in large amounts. It is released when something is burned. The greatest sources of Carbon monoxide range from automobiles and other vehicles or machinery that burn fossil fuels to kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, and gas stoves. A high dose of Carbon Monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood stream to the heart and brain. Highly concentrated levels of Carbon Monoxide can lead to death.
Lead is a harmful mineral that once it is digested into the body it distributes throughout the body in the blood and is accumulated in the bones. Depending on the level of exposure, lead can adversely affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems and the cardiovascular system
Sulfur Dioxide gets in the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities or extracting metal from ore. Sulfur Dioxide can also occur from locomotives, ships and other vehicles and heavy equipment that burn fuel with a high sulfur content. Exposures to Sulfur Dioxide can be harmful to the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult.
Nitrous Dioxide gets in the air from the burning of fuel. It forms from emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power plants, and off-road equipment. can irritate airways in the human respiratory system. Exposure to Nitrous Dioxide can aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma and lead to respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing).
(n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/urbanair/
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