Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Air Pollution

  • Christina Hemphill Fuller
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_31


Air pollution is produced when chemicals, particulate matter, or gasses are introduced into the air and cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms. The components of air pollution can be divided into primary and secondary pollutants. Primary pollutants are those that are released directly into the air by a process such as combustion. Main primary pollutants include carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) (jointly they are NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), particulate matter (PM), volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOCs), and metals (such as lead). Secondary pollutants are created by the interaction of primary pollutants through chemical processes or agglomeration. An important secondary pollutant is ground level ozone, which is formed from NOx and VOCs in the presence of sunlight. Some pollutants, such as NO2, are both primary and secondary pollutants.

Although there are natural sources of outdoor (ambient) air pollution such as volcanic...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Brook, R. D. (2008). Cardiovascular effects of air pollution. Clinical Science (London), 115, 175–187.Google Scholar
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Suggested Resources

  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/air/. Accessed March 16, 2010.
  2. World Health Organization. http://www.euro.who.int/document/e87950.pdf. Accessed March 16, 2010.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina Hemphill Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA