Important Methods of Detection and Measurement of Air Pollution

Table 251. Common air pollutants, their sources and pathological effects on man (after Southwick, 1976):

PollutantsWhere they come from (source)Pathological effect on man
1. AldehydesThermal decomposition of fats, oil, or glycerol.Irritate nasal and respiratory tracts.
2. AmmoniasChemical processes—dye- making; explosives; lac­quer; fertilizer.Inflame upper respiratory passages.
3. ArsinesProcesses involving metals or acids containing arsenic soldering.Break down red cells in blood, damage kidneys; cause jaundice.
4. Carbon monoxidesGasoline motor exhausts; burning of coal.Reduce oxygen-carrying capa­city of blood.
5. ChlorinesBleaching cotton and flour; many other chemical pro­cesses.Attack entire respiratory tract and mucous membranes of eyes; cause pulmonary edema:
6. Hydrogen cyanidesFumigation; blast furnaces: chemical manufacturing; metal plating.Interfere with nerve cells; produce dry throat, indistinct vision, and headache.
7. Hydrogen fluoridesPetroleum refining; glass etching; aluminium and fertilizer production.Irritate and corrode all body passages.
8. Hydrogen sulphidesRefineries and chemical industries; bituminous fuels.Smell like rotten eggs; cause nausea; irritate eyes and throat.
9. Nitrogen oxidesMotor vehicle exhausts; soft coal.Inhibit cilia action so that soot and dust penetrate far into the lungs.
10. Phosgenes (carbonyl chloride)Chemical and dye manu­facturing.Induce coughing, irritation, and sometimes fatal pulmon­ary edema.
11. Sulphur dioxidesCoal and oil combustion.Cause chest constriction, headache, vomiting, and death from respitratory ailments.
12. Suspended particles (ash, soot, smoke)Incinerators; almost any manufacturing.Cause emphysema, eye irrita­tions and possibly cancer.

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The particulate pollution is measured by the instrument called deposit gauge or by Owen’s dust counter. The thickness of the smoke is measured by Liegean sphere and by Ringelmann chart. The rough estimation of SO2 in air can be made by chemical analysis of the dust collected in a deposit gauge or by a bubbler method. Fluorides are estimated by colour reactions.

Table 25.2. Levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and suspended particulate matter in air during 1970 in some Indian cities (from Seth, 1976):

CityMean Value of SO2 microgram/cubic meterSuspended particulate matter microgram/cubic meter
2.New Delhi41.4601.1