Sulphur pollutants

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  • I was delighted to respond to an invitation from Ventus Publishing to write a book on atmospheric pollution. It is a topic well enough served by books in the past, but has become increasingly important during these early years of the 21st Century. I believe therefore that there is a place for a review like this one and that notwithstanding the immense activity in the area the book will have a reasonable shelf life. This is because it continually relates the discussion to the principles of physics and chemistry, and these do not change....

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  • Secondary aerosol is produced by the oxidation of primary gases (sulphur dioxide, SO2, nitrogen oxides, NOx, and volatile organic compounds, VOCs,) to sulphuric and nitric acid, and organic vapours, followed by their gas-particle conversion [26, 77]. Finally, some of these acidic gases can be neutralised by reaction with ammonia gas or calcium carbonate (calcite) forming secondary aerosol (ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate, calcium sulphate, calcium nitrate).

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  • Airborne suspended particulate matter (PM) can be either primary or secondary in nature. Primary particles are emitted directly into the atmosphere either by natural or anthropogenic processes, whereas secondary particles have a predominantly man made origin and are formed in the atmosphere from the oxidation and subsequent reactions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and VOCs.

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  • The principal pollutants from the transport sector responsible for adverse health effects include lead, various types of particulate matter, ozone (formed from atmospheric reactions of oxides of nitrogen [Nox] and volatile organic compounds [VOCs]), various toxic VOCs, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and sulphur dioxide. However, the proportion of these various pollutants attributable to the transport sector varies significantly across different cities, as indicated by the table below.

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  • Particulate emissions from road transport arise as direct emissions from vehicle exhausts, tyre and brake wear and resuspension of road dust. In urban areas, emissions from road transport are thought to be the major source of PM10. In general, diesel engine vehicles emit a greater mass of fine particulate matter, per vehicle, than petrol engines. Diesel emissions are mainly composed of soot particles, volatile hydrocarbons and some sulphate from the fuel sulphur.

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  • Physical damage functions relating health (mortality and morbidity) to air pollution levels have been estimated over a number of years in different countries. Although the net effect of pollutants on health is unclear, the Committee of the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP), set up by the UK government has found the strongest link between health and pollution to be for particulates (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3) (Department of Health, 1998).

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  • Transportation involves the combustion of fossil fuels to produce energy translated into motion. Pollution is created from incomplete carbon reactions, unburned hydrocarbons or other elements present in the fuel or air during combustion. These processes produce pollutants of various species, including carbon monoxide, soot, various gaseous and liquid vapour hydro carbons, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, sulphate and nitrate particulates, ash and lead.

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  • Road freighttransport provides transport and environmental policy with some of its most intractable problems. Lorries are visually very intrusive, noisy, polluting and responsible for much of the impetus behind road building strategies.

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  • Combustion units (process furnaces, steam boilers and gas turbines) give rise to emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates. Nitrogen oxide emissions are most commonly reduced by combustion modifications that reduce temperatures and hence the formation of thermal NOx. The techniques include low NOx burners, flue gas recirculation, and reduced pre-heat. Nitrogen oxides can also be removed after they have formed by reduction to nitrogen using Selective Non Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) or Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). Water pollutant control.

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