Untitled - Ministerio del Medio Ambiente

sodium chloride or salt, materials of geologic origin as surface dust, metals and other trace elements. Through the description of these components, it. Air Quality.
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Chapter 1

Air Pollution 1] Background


2] Diagnosis: Air Quality


3] Causes: Air Pollutant Emissions


4] Actions: Air Pollution Control


chapter 1 air pollution

Air Quality


Management Tools

Hospital Admissions Heart attacks Dysrhythmia Ischemic heart disease Chronic bronchitis Pneumonia Asthma attacks


Maximum Permissible of PM 2.5:

20 µg/m3 annual average

Prevention and Decontamination Plans Emission standards Consumer information Voluntary agreements



In Chile, at least

10 million people

are exposed to an annual average concentration of PM2.5 higher than 20 micrograms per cubic meter.


Introduction Abstract Air quality is one of the environmental issues that most directly affect the population. Despite the efforts and different tools used, the country does not yet comply with the limits established in the current primary and secondary standards. In this context, and given the complexity of the issue, in 2010 the Ministry of the Environment began the preparation and implementation of the Clean Air Program, which seeks to improve air quality in the main urban areas of the country, thus incorporating a national approach to manage this issue.

Background 1 Several national and international studies have shown a link between the concentration level of pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (No2) and the incidence of premature deaths and several cardiorespiratory diseases, in both children and adults. There is also evidence of environmental effects, such as visibility impairment, damage to materials and impacts on flora and fauna (table 1). Particulate matter (PM) is the pollutant that has been more significantly associated to mortality and morbidity events in the population (Pope and Dockery, 2006). This pollutant is classified according to its diameter, the characteristic that determines the intensity of its impacts. Two metrics are generally used to classify particulate matter, particles smaller than 10 microns known as PM10 and particles smaller than 2.5 microns, known as PM2.5. Thus, two fractions can be distinguished for PM10: The coarse fraction, that is, between 2.5 and 10 microns, and the fine fraction, smaller than 2.5 microns.

air chapter 1


chapter 1 air pollution

Table 1

Impacts Generated by PM, O3, SO2 and No2



Damage to Human Health

Particles and compounds emitted into the air in certain concentrations can produce harmful effects. on people’s health, for instance, reduced pulmonary function, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, premature deaths and cancer, among others.

Visibility Impairment

The presence of particles in the air reduces visibility, causing reduced well-being and quality of life.

Damage to Materials

The excess of air pollution may cause damages in building materials, altering their physical and chemical properties.

Damage to Aquatic Ecosystems

High concentrations of No2 and SO2 can produce acid deposition in the water, modifying its composition and making the survival of aquatic species difficult.

Damage to Plants and Forests

Acid deposition in soils can modify the growth of plants and trees. Also, ozone and other particles may enter through the stomata of plants and damage their structure.

Source: Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, 2011a.

It is worth noting that the fine fraction, PM2.5, is composed of particles that are small enough to penetrate through airways until they reach the lungs and alveoli, which increases the risk of premature mortality due to cardiopulmonary effects, in both short- and long-term exposures (CONAMA, 2010). Regarding the coarse fraction, PM10, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even though there is an apparent relation between short-term exposure and respiratory and cardiovascular effects, there is not enough evidence to verify potential effects for long-term exposure (EPA, 2009).


air chapter 1

In PM10 two fractions can be distinguished, the coarse fraction, that is, between 2.5 and 10 microns, and the fine fraction, smaller than 2.5 microns. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the most aggresive pollutant to human health.


Human Hair 50-70 µm diameter

Combustible particles, organic components, metals, etc.