Emitted pollutants

Types of emitted pollutants from vehicles

A. Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM)

Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) consists of solids in the air, in the form of dust, fumes, mist and smoke that can remain suspended for long periods and is also the main source of haze which reduces visibility. (, 2006) The particle’s size is very small, in the range of micrometer. Based on the size, SPM is divided into three, thoracic particles (PM10) with a diameter more than 10 µm, fine particles (PM2.5) with a diameter up to 2.5 µm, and coarse particles (PM10 to 2.5) with a diameter ranged from 2.5 to 10 µm. (AHA Scientific Statement, 2006) The smaller particle it is, the bigger possibility for it to be stuck on lungs. The main chemical component of SPM that is most concerned is lead; others are nickel, arsenic, and those present in diesel exhaust. (, 2006)

SPM is very dangerous for our lungs and heart. When we inhale these particles, they lodge in our lung tissues and cause lung damage and respiratory problems. The very small particles can penetrate lungs and get into the bloodstream. They spread into other organs and make more destruction. These particles contain carcinogens and reactive oxygen which is able to trigger inflammation and allergy and destroy the heart. Every 10 mcg PM/m3 air addition, draw 6% addition of death risk due to cardiopulmonary disease and 8% addition of lung cancer. Long term exposure to SPM increases death risk as much as that caused by second hand smoke. (Trum Hunter and Hirsch, 2004)

The existence of SPM as a major pollutant needs special emphasis in handling, as it affects more people globally than any other pollutants on a continuing base. Besides, there is more monitoring data available on this than any other pollutant; and more epidemiological evidence has been collected on the exposure to this than to any other pollutants. (, 2006) 


B. Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels including petrol, diesel, and wood. Vehicles can produce at average 6.25 grams CO per km. (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002). It is also produced from industrial activities, volcano eruption, and the combustion of natural and synthetic products such as cigarettes.

CO combines with hemoglobin lessen the amount of oxygen that enters our blood through our lungs. The binding with other haeme proteins causes changes in the function of the affected organs such as the brain, the cardiovascular system and the developing fetus. (, 2006) The level of CO in clean atmosphere is 0.1 ppm. CO with the level 100 ppm can weaken our concentration, slow our reflexes, make us confused and sleepy, and also can trigger headache, breathe difficulty and make us fainted. In about four hours high exposure, CO can cause death due to asphyxiation (lack of oxygen / too much CO). (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002)


C. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is formed naturally from respiration process and perfect hydrocarbon burning process includes vehicle combustion. It is well known as the main cause of global warming or green house effect which is a big issue now. The percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is 0.03%, relatively high compared with the other impermanent gas.

CO2 is actually not hazardous for human health; but in high concentration (10%-20%) CO2 can make human pass out since CO2 replaces oxygen in the blood stream, just the same way CO do. (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002) Only the power to get chained with hemoglobin is lower than CO’s. Some people even still doubt whether CO2 is a pollutant or not.




D. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the air is formed by combustions of fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and coal. Petroleum and coal consist of 0 to 6 % sulfur. When they are burned, the sulfur reacts with oxygen forming SO2. SO2 level in clean air is 0.0002ppm. SO2 is a major contributor to smog and acid rain. It can oxidize into SO3, and form sulfuric acid mist when the SO3 react with water or rain. Acid rain has pH up to 5. (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002)

SO2 is a big threat to our health. In small amount, SO2 in the air leads to lung disorders such as wheezing and shortness of breath, while in big amount SO2 can destroy respiratory tract and cause death. Long-term effects are more difficult to determine as SO2 exposure is often combined with SPM’s. (, 2006)


E. Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx)

Petroleum consists of 0% to 15% nitrogen, thus the combustion of fuels, including petrol, diesel and coal, and industry activity will produce NO. NO in the atmosphere can be oxidized, forming NO2. Both NO and NO2 are gasses. The level of NO2 in clean air is 0.001 ppm. It causes some health problems such as respiratory problems and sore eyes. (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002) Nitrogen oxides can make children susceptible to respiratory diseases in winters. Nitrogen Oxide (NO) and NO2 also cause smog and acid rain.


F. Lead (Pb)

Lead is present in petrol, diesel, lead batteries, paints, hair dye products, pesticide, cable, etc. Extended exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, cause digestive problems, and in some cases cause cancer. (, 2006) It is especially hazardous to small children. It lessens children’s intelligence, disturb the growth, and cause palsy. The symptom of being contaminated with lead is nausea, anemia and stomachache. Lead can get into blood stream and destroy brain nerve. (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002)

TEL (Tetra Etil Lead) is the compound of lead. It is added to gasoline to higher the octane number. The higher the octane number is the better quality the gasoline has. Premium gasoline with octane number 87 contains 0.7 gram of TEL per liter (Sutresna and Gursida, 2002), which lead is 0.45 gram. (, 2005)


G. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) is easily evaporated. It becomes gas in the room temperature. VOC in the form of gas can be released through the burning of wood, kerosene or natural gas and cigarette, which can cause irritation of the eye, nose and throat. In severe cases there may be headaches, nausea, and loss of coordination. In the longer run, some of VOC are suspected to cause damage to the liver and other parts of the body. (, 2006) One of them is formaldehyde which is usually used to stuff animals.

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