Air Pollution And Harmful Effects of Carbon Monoxide
Air pollution is the presence of harmful materials in the air around us, including particulates, smoke and waste gasses. It causes death and illness in humans, animals and even plants if left unchecked. Air pollution inside homes and outdoors in urban areas are considered the most dangerous examples of pollution, and according to the World Health Organisation, kill at least 7 million people every year worldwide.
What makes up air pollution?
There are many different types of pollutants, but the most important to our health are:
- particulate matter
- carbon monoxide
- sulphur dioxide
- nitrogen oxides
- volatile organic compounds
Particulate matter is most often ash, released during any form of combustion. Larger particulates (10 micrometres or more in diameter) are most often found near roadways and some factories. Smaller particulates (2.5 micrometres or less) often form as secondary pollutants.
Nitrous oxides are predominately emitted from motor vehicles, whilst carbon monoxide forms during combustion.
Sulphur dioxideis formed when burning sulphurous materials such as coal or gas.
Ozone is a secondary pollutant formed as part of a wide variety of chemical reactions catalysed by sunlight.
Almost all of these types of pollution are caused by people. For example, only 1% of sulphur dioxide is naturally occurring at the earth’s surface. The other 99% is from human action. Many of these chemicals are not themselves greenhouse gases – the chemicals that cause global warming – but are often formed in the same processes.
Pollutants can be primary – emitted directly from a source, or secondary.
Secondary pollutants form when primary pollutants interact with the environment, usually water or sunlight. Smog, peroxyacetyl nitrate and ground level ozone are common secondary air pollutants.
Where does pollution come from?
Pollution has many different sources. Some natural sources of pollution include:
- volcanic eruptions
- forest fires
- dust and pollen
While harmful, natural pollution tends to be brief in duration, and are not centered around cities in the way that man-made or artificial pollution is, so is less of a threat. Some harmful gases like carbon monoxide are odorless and colorless and hence we human will not able to see or smell it if they are present around us. But carbon monoxide are very harmful and it is important that we keep this gas under control. There are various carbon monoxide alarm and detector in UK that can detect their presence. The most harmful sources of artificial pollution include:
- furnaces and incinerators
- motor vehicle exhaust, including cars, ships and aircraft
- Solvents and fumes, as from paint, hair spray and chemicals
- Landfill waste gasses, such as methane
As you can see, the sources of man-made pollution tend to be located in and around cities, and emit a fairly constant amount of harmful material into the air. As a result these pollutants form the greatest threat to human health, especially those who are especially vulnerable due to age, illness or pregnancy.
How does the weather affect air ploution?
The day to day air quality of an area depends on many variables. Some of the most important factors in the amount of pollutants we actually breathe depend on the weather.
- Rain can remove sulphur dioxide and coal pollutants from the air, but results in acid rain and polluted water.
- Temperature inversions can trap large amounts of pollutants within the area of a city, preventing them from being blown away into the atmosphere in general.
- Winter smog, what many people associate with London, accumulates when the emissions of factories and vehicles become too dense.
- Photochemical smog, more associated with Beijing and many other Chinese cities, is a form of secondary pollution formed when primary pollutants interact with sunlight. It is composed of ozone, aldehydes, and other chemicals.
Inside air can become polluted as well!
It is important to realise that pollution doesn’t just occur outside. The air in our homes and at work can be 50-80% as polluted as the air outside. As we spend around 90% of our lives indoors, this is the type of pollution that has the greatest impact on our health.
Carbon Monoxide and dangers to our health
Carbon Monoxide or CO, is a toxic gas that you cannot see or smell. The industrial processes where carbon monoxide may be produced include: metal manufacturing, electricity supply, mining metal ore and coal, food manufacturing, extracting oil and gas from land or sea, production of chemicals, cement lime, plaster and concrete manufacturing, and petroleum refining. Diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult as it can simulate many other conditions. The effects depend on how much carbon monoxide is in the air, how long it is breathed, and how healthy, active, and sensitive to CO an individual is. CO is given off whenever fuel or other carbon-based materials are burned.
The locations that continue to have high concentrations of CO tend to have topographical or meteorological characteristics that exacerbate pollution; for example, strong temperature inversions or the existence of nearby hills that inhibit wind flow may limit pollutant dispersion. According to statistics from the Department of Health, the most common indication of CO poisoning is a headache (90% of patients), nausea and vomiting (50%), vertigo (50%), confusion/changes in consciousness (30%), and weakness (20%). The beginning symptoms of CO poisoning are sometimes compared to the symptoms of food poisoning. Exposure to CO is worse for older people, fetuses, and people with heart, circulatory, or lung disease. CO usually comes from sources in or near your home that are not properly maintained or vented. As can be seen from the table, the symptoms vary widely based on exposure level, duration and the general health and age on an individual.
Most people have experienced some of these symptoms at one time or another, which doesn’t necessarily mean that CO poisoning caused them. The highest levels of CO typically occur during the colder months of the year when inversion conditions (when the air pollution becomes trapped near the ground beneath a layer of warm air) are more frequent. If untreated, exposure to carbon monoxide gas can prevent red blood cells from carrying oxygen to body tissue. Also note the one recurrent theme that is most significant in the recognition of carbon monoxide poisoning – headache, dizziness and nausea. Carbon monoxide detectors, which are designed to protect against high concentration of carbon monoxide are required to sound an alarm when concentrations are greater than 100 ppm.
Once carbon monoxide attaches, it is very difficult to release. Long term effects can include brain damage, including problems with memory, mood, behaviour and language. So if you breath in carbon monoxide, it sticks to your hemoglobin and takes up all of the oxygen binding sites. In order to assess whether low level carbon monoxide exposure is, in fact, a problem in the UK, two important factors need to be taken into account: the number of people potentially affected by low levels of CO in their homes, and the severity and likelihood of long term effects. Eventually, your blood loses all of its ability to transport oxygen, and you suffocate.
Why You need carbon monoxide detector
Carbon monoxide alarms are designed to alert the homeowner when carbon monoxide levels accumulate over a period of time, and will alarm before most people would experience any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. By having an alarm fitted you will be warned before the carbon monoxide presence reaches a dangerous level. In the home or at a commercial facility you can frequently find carbon monoxide has developed from a flame fueled oven, dryer, furnace, grill, space heater or water heater. Once you’ve chosen the right CO detector for your home, you must consider where to place the devices. Installing carbon monoxide alarms with electrochemical sensing technology in the home also provide sufficient protection for residents.
If carbon monoxide is present in the atmosphere do not waste time opening windows and doors hoping the gas will clear, because of the potential risk to health. Carbon Monoxide can also be present in your vehicle during cold snowy days where you need to warm up your vehicle before driving off. Placing them on the ceiling of your kitchen is a natural choice, but experts recommend you place them away from stoves to prevent smoke from triggering the detectors. Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Instead, get everyone off the premises and call the fire department.
A working smoke alarm system is a great investment for the protection of family and properties. The beauty of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is that they have 24/7 monitoring, which is crucial when it comes to this type of event. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is the best way to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. Nearly seventy percent of fire scenes examined between 2006 and 2011, had no functioning fire alarm, according to the office of the fire Commissioner.
The offsite monitoring offered by this system is what gives you that extra sense of security. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly. If you live in the Greater Cleveland area and would like to learn more about how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Buying Guide
Carbon monoxide detectors come in three varieties: hard-wired, plug-in, or battery-operated. Battery-operated smoke detectors are easier to install, but batteries must be changed twice a year. Smart carbon monoxide alarms are the most advanced option available. The lifespans of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and combination units differ based on factors such as device type, model and where they’re installed. Hard-wired models have the advantage of being linked to each other, but if the electricity goes out, so does the detection system. (Any hard-wired unit should include a battery backup.) Detectors with replaceable batteries are usually a few pounds cheaper than sealed battery detectors, but you will need to buy replacement batteries after a few years, and this brings the prices to about level.
Plug-in smoke detectors, which typically have a battery backup, are popular because they’re very easy to install—as long as an empty standard 120-volt electrical outlet is available. They do their own diagnostics to make sure they’re working properly and sync with home automation apps so you can monitor your home from afar. See the manual for specific information on when to replace a unit. Co detectors that can talk not just make noise – Carbon monoxide poisoning is at its most dangerous when the occupants of the home are sleeping. Unless the power goes out, you won’t have to worry about devices losing battery and failing to work.
In general, replace a smoke detector after no more than 10 years and a carbon monoxide alarm after no more than 5 years. If there is ever a problem in your home, you need to know with absolute certainty that your carbon monoxide alarm is capable of alerting the sleeping members of your household. Photoelectric smoke detector: A photoelectric detector uses light reflecting off smoke particles to trigger the alarm. The display on a digital carbon dioxide detector shows the concentration of CO in parts per million. This happens when the light produced by the bulb of the detector reflects back into the photocell. Some models even feature a continuous stock ticker-like readout of the current level.