Air pollution by fine particles, also known as particulate matter (PM), consists of tiny particles of liquids and solids in the air. These particles can be dust, smoke, soot, dirt, or liquid drops. Some particles are big enough to see, while others are too small. Nonetheless, all fine particles from vehicle emissions cause harm to your health and the environment. This article will focus on air pollution by fine particles from vehicles and other forms of transportation.
The Sources of Particle Pollution and Your Health
There are different sources of particle pollution- secondary and primary. Primary sources cause pollution naturally, like forest fires. However, secondary sources release gases that create the particles. Cars, trucks, buses, and trains are the primary sources of air pollution.
Breathing the particles released from the vehicles causes harm to your health. The bigger particles cause eye, throat, and nose irritation. The fine particles are the worst because they travel to the lungs or blood, causing different health issues. Fine particles affect everyone. However, some people, like children, older adults, and people with lung and heart disease, are more vulnerable to fine particles.
For example, fine particles can worsen your symptoms if you have asthma. That means you need a better way of managing asthma when the pollution level is high. Other effects of fine particles on your health include irritation in the eyes, difficulty breathing, lung and throat irritation, and lung cancer. People with heart diseases can also experience faster heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.
Air pollution by fine particles causes a huge danger to human health and the environment. However, finding a solution to reduce air pollution by fine particles and maintaining clean vehicles can significantly help reduce emissions and transform the transportation sector.
What Do Fine Particles Carry?
Cars, buses, and trucks produce pollutants from the operation and fuel combustion. These pollutants include:
- Particulate Matter
Particulate matter consists of smoke, dust, and soot from the vehicle. The fine particles emitted threaten human health, leading to lung complications. These particles can be from primary or secondary pollutants like sulfur dioxides, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide. They could also be simply from dust emitted from different activities like braking.
- Sulfur Dioxide
Motor vehicles also create air pollution from burning fuel containing sulfur. Substances like coal and diesel react in the atmosphere to create fine particles, posing a huge risk to people with asthma and children.
- Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds react with nitrogen oxide to form smog. Even though they are important in the upper-level zone, they cause respiratory issues like choking and coughing.
- Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse gases also contain fine particles emitted mostly from carbon dioxide. The pollutants emitted cause climate change. In fact, transportation, including ships, airplanes, trains, and vehicles, contributes to 30% of all gas emissions. Heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and trains contribute to more than 25% of emissions and air pollution from transportation.
Addressing air pollution from fine particles in transportation is crucial to improving air quality. The right investments and policies will help accelerate improved air quality in the transportation system.