Latest Research News on Air Pollution : Apr 2022

Air pollution and health

The health effects of air pollution have been subject to intense study in recent years. Exposure to pollutants such as airborne participate matter and ozone has been associated with increases in mortality and hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. These effects have been found in short-term studies, which relate day-to-day variations in air pollution and health, and long-term studies, which have followed cohorts of exposed individuals over time. Effects have been seen at very low levels of exposure, and it is unclear whether a threshold concentration exists for particulate matter and ozone below which no effects on health are likely. In this review, we discuss the evidence for adverse effects on health of selected air pollutants.[1]

Human health effects of air pollution

Hazardous chemicals escape to the environment by a number of natural and/or anthropogenic activities and may cause adverse effects on human health and the environment. Increased combustion of fossil fuels in the last century is responsible for the progressive change in the atmospheric composition. Air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone (O3), heavy metals, and respirable particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), differ in their chemical composition, reaction properties, emission, time of disintegration and ability to diffuse in long or short distances. Air pollution has both acute and chronic effects on human health, affecting a number of different systems and organs. It ranges from minor upper respiratory irritation to chronic respiratory and heart disease, lung cancer, acute respiratory infections in children and chronic bronchitis in adults, aggravating pre-existing heart and lung disease, or asthmatic attacks. In addition, short- and long-term exposures have also been linked with premature mortality and reduced life expectancy. These effects of air pollutants on human health and their mechanism of action are briefly discussed.[2]

Air pollution and health

The book presents a comprehensive account of air pollution science and its impact on human health. It ranges in scope from meteorology, atmospheric chemistry and particle physics, to the aetiology and epidemiology of allergic reactions and respiratory, cardiovascular and related disorders. There is also international coverage and sections on cost implications, risk assessment, regulation, standards and information networks. The multidisciplinary approach and the range of issues covered should provide readers with information on all issues relating to ambient air pollution.[3]

Air pollution in cities

Air quality in cities is the result of a complex interaction between natural and anthropogenic environmental conditions. Air pollution in cities is a serious environmental problem – especially in the developing countries. The air pollution path of the urban atmosphere consists of emission and transmission of air pollutants resulting in the ambient air pollution. Each part of the path is influenced by different factors. Emissions from motor traffic are a very important source group throughout the world. During transmission, air pollutants are dispersed, diluted and subjected to photochemical reactions. Ambient air pollution shows temporal and spatial variability. As an example of the temporal variability of urban air pollutants caused by motor traffic, typical average annual, weekly and diurnal cycles of NO, NO2, O3 and Ox are presented for an official urban air-quality station in Stuttgart, southern Germany. They are supplemented by weekly and diurnal cycles of selected percentile values of NO, NO2, and O3. Time series of these air pollutants give information on their trends. Results are discussed with regard to air pollution conditions in other cities. Possibilities for the assessment of air pollution in cities are shown. In addition, a qualitative overview of the air quality of the world’s megacities is given.[4]

Biotechniques for air pollution control

This paper gives an overview of present biological techniques for the treatment of off-gases and the techniques that are being developed at the moment. The characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, costs and application area are discussed and compared. Biological off-gas treatment is based on the absorption of volatile contaminants in an aqueous phase or biofilm followed by oxidation by the action of microorganisms. Biofilters, bioscrubbers and biotrickling filters are used for elimination of odour and bioconvertable volatile organic and inorganic compounds and are enjoying increasing popularity. This popularity is a result of the low investment and operational costs involved compared to physico-chemical techniques and the elimination efficiencies that can be obtained. The operational envelop is still extending to higher concentrations and gas flow rates (exceeding 200,000 m3 h−1) and a broader spectrum of degradable compounds. Research and development on the use of membranes and the addition of activated carbon or a second liquid phase to the biological systems may lead to a more efficient elimination of hydrophobic compounds and buffering of fluctuating loads. Shorter adaptation periods can be obtained by inoculation with specialized microorganisms. Improved design and operation are made possible by the growing insights in the kinetics and microbiology and supported by the development of models describing biological off-gas treatment. In conclusion, biotechniques are efficient and cost effective in treating off-gases with concentrations of biodegradable contaminants up to 1–5 g/m3. They could play a justified and important role in air pollution control in the coming years.[5]


[1] Brunekreef, B. and Holgate, S.T., 2002. Air pollution and health. The lancet, 360(9341), pp.1233-1242.

[2] Kampa, M. and Castanas, E., 2008. Human health effects of air pollution. Environmental pollution, 151(2), pp.362-367.

[3] Holgate, S.T., Samet, J.M., Koren, H.S. and Maynard, R.L., 1999. Air pollution and health.

[4] Mayer, H., 1999. Air pollution in cities. Atmospheric environment, 33(24-25), pp.4029-4037.

[5] van Groenestijn, J.W. and Hesselink, P.G., 1993. Biotechniques for air pollution control. Biodegradation, 4(4), pp.283-301.

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