Typical airborne pollutants
Common UK air pollutants.
Indoors, carbon dioxide accumulates from human breathing activity. It occurs naturally in fresh air at about 400ppm (parts per million) and is regarded as harmless at low concentrations. At higher levels around 800ppm it can start to affect cognitive performance. At levels over 1,500ppm carbon dioxide could reasonably be regarded as a pollutant as it can then have a very significant affect on people’s ability to concentrate, to correctly assimilate, process and memorise information and this will impact on productivity.
From nearby traffic exhaust fumes and from incomplete combustion e.g. by inefficient or poorly adjusted gas cookers and gas fires. See the facts.
- Particulate matter (also referred to as PM or particle pollution) is a complex mixture of solid and/or liquid particles suspended in air. These particles can vary in size, shape and composition.
- The UK medical profession and environmentalists share concerns about particles that are 10 micrometres in diameter or smaller because these particles are inhalable.
- Once inhaled, particles can affect the heart and lungs and in some cases cause serious health effects. The human health effects of outdoor PM are well-established.
- Exposure to inhalable particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Many studies directly link the size of particles to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles (less than 10 micrometres in diameter) can get deep into your lungs, and some (less than 1 micrometre) may even get into your bloodstream to impact on the function of internal organs.
- People with heart or lung diseases such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), children and older adults may be at greater risk from PM exposure. Scientific studies have linked PM exposure to a variety of health impacts, including:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation;
- Aggravation of coronary and respiratory disease symptoms; and
- Premature death in people with heart or lung disease.
- Airborne particulate matter is made up of a collection of microscopic solid and/or liquid materials of various sizes that range from a few nanometres (1 nanometre = one thousand-millionth of a metre) to around 100 micrometres (100 µm, about the thickness of a human hair).
- It consists of both primary components, which are released directly from the source into the atmosphere, and secondary components, which are formed in the atmosphere by chemical reactions. Particulate matter comes from both human-made and natural sources – microscopic particles, both solid and liquid, carried in the air from nearby traffic exhaust fumes, house dust from carpets curtains furnishings. See the facts.