Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Atmospheric aerosols or particulate matter (PM) are one of the most important components of the earth-atmosphere system and play important role in climate and weather related processes. Apart from climate, aerosols also have an impact on entire living biota on planet earth. Impact of air pollution on human health is of most concern in current time. Air pollution has both short-term and long-term effects. Short terms impacts includes, respiratory infections, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can intensify the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema. In 1952 London experienced one of the worst smog disasters, which killed more than four thousand people in few days due to very high concentration of particulate matter in the air. Long-term effects include lung cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual contact to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may worsen or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution. Worldwide more deaths per year are linked to air pollution than to automobile accidents. Some examples from all around the world; approximately 310,000 Europeans die from air pollution annually, The Tata Energy Research Institute in India estimated 18, 600 premature deaths per year associated with poor air quality in the Delhi region, Increased PM was associated with 2400 deaths per year in Australia with an associated health cost of $17.2 billion and Sydney experiences around 400 premature mortalities each year due to increased levels of pollution and asthma is also common in this area. Similar mortality deaths are associated with air pollution in other parts of the world. Using statistical data collected in twenty big cities of the United States show that the daily mortality within a metropolitan area is associated with concurrent or lagged daily fluctuations in ambient PM concentrations. Apart from impact on human health, poor air quality also affects the health of animals and plants. Poor air quality conditions are also associated with damaging buildings and monuments around the world. Indirectly air pollution significantly affects the economy by increasing medical expenditures and preservation of the surrounding environment.