Particulate pollutants are minute fragments of matter that swirl around in the air. In easy speak, as opposed to environmental jargon, particulate pollutants are air borne trash. The windier the weather, the more swirling and swishing these traveling bits of wood, dirt, soot, chemicals and all other flotsam and jetsam do. Eventually it lands somewhere under its own weight or the lowering of the force of the air.
We breathe in the lighter particulates, the ones most harmful to humans and livestock. This accounts for airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and numerous ailments labeled under the acronym COPD. (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.)
Individually particulate pollutants are smog, lead, soot, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide. Smog is a combination of smoke and fog; or dirty air that can be seen. Nothing much can be done about fog but mix that with smoke and you have a dirty haze that lingers in the air above, below and all around houses, trees, factories and busy thoroughfares. Breathing in heavy air is often a challenge. The Clean Air Act of 1970 has helped but amendments in 1977 and 1990 pushed on into the future deadlines for compliance. This is understandable since jobs and the economy came first but isn't it about time we say enough is enough?
Particulates are mainly those minute bits and scrapes of earthy trash that circulate in the air. They are surrounded by the gaseous elements that contribute to disease and dirty air such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide. Particulates are opaque bits of matter that lodge in lungs and cause cancer, get ingested and cause intestinal problems and are associated with many other disease processes.
Their size determines in what category they are scientifically classified. The smaller, the greater health risk says the experts at NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards). Four classes are assigned to their descriptions: "TSP (total suspended matter), to PM-10, particles less than 10 microns in aerodynamic diameter, to PM-2.5, particles less than 2.5 microns." Breathing is difficult when the air is heavy with these particles of matter and when they are ingested or breathed in, then the body has problems assimilating them into the system and this cause medical problems.
Allergic reactions foul up of immune systems, lung tissue damage and my unreported or undetected conditions arise from these foreign particulates when they attempt to make their way in the human body. In the blood stream they also wreak havoc. Children, as one example, with sensitive pulmonary systems cannot tolerate these intrusions and Asthma attacks result. Masks are often needed when these children are outside in heavier than usual air.
Further explanations of particulate matter must include how the air gets to be as dirty as it is. Smoke from smokestacks either in factories or in homes that burn coal and wood pollute the air and these are readily seen. Some of this is necessary since homes need heat and factories need to produce what a needy world demands. What the Clean Air Act attempts to do is not to find alternate sources of energy, they decide on the limits. The perpetrators are expected to conform to their regulations.
Therefore, hopefully and in the best of worlds, alternative fuel supplies will be utilized. And this is being done but slower than what is needed. Time is needed to undo the air pollution that took centuries to create. Some of it is unavoidable such as natural disasters that pollute the air.
But with enforced regulations and responsible regulators and responsible citizens much will be accomplished. It is indeed hard to see this on a personal country by country, state by state, city by city problem. Each has their own slice of the money-making pie and they resist efforts to conform. Yet, with diligent effort and working within their confines, much can be done.
To explain even further the above statement: Some areas have more sunshine therefore they are expected to go solar; others have more water ways and they should involve themselves in utilizing this as energy sources, some places are mountainous and have wonderful sites for partially underground home building where temperatures are normally not too hot nor too cold.
When coal must be burned, how about adequate filtering systems to eliminate much of the pollutants if this are possible. Or burn the coal in enclosed environments and transfer the heat. In other words adapt to the surroundings in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.
Whatever and however we clean up the environment we cannot allow trash to do us in. The larger particulate pollutants that are magnified such as landfills are also being utilized as part of the solution and are becoming less of a problem. In some places the methane that is produced by decaying particulate pollutants that are manmade is being used to produce energy.
It is comforting to watch a society that is down to the last straw find new ways of making old things new again. Who else can save us but dedicated humans bent on restoring the earth to a more pristine quality. They have everything at their disposal for a better world - a creator who is perfection Himself ready to direct and to pass out assignments, worlds of opportunities, and scientific knowledge that can indeed move mountains and with foresight can rid the air of particulate pollution.