February 03, 2012

China's pollution

Economist - "PM2.5” refers to the smallest solid particles in the atmosphere—those less than 2.5 microns across. Such dust can get deep into people’s lungs; far deeper than that rated as PM10 (10 micron particles). Having 50 microns per cubic meter means hospitalizations go up 4% for strokes and 6% for heart attacks on those days. Long term exposure to air pollution causes even more health problems and fatalities.

Society can pay to fix the pollutions at the source of coal and gas plants and on vehicles and there are air pollution mitigation devices.

The particulate control technology costs about $50,000,000 per 1 gigawatt coal plant to achieve 99-99.5% reduction in particulates. A total of about $400 million for the more effective air pollution technologies for Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates.

In US studies, a microgram per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 exposure was related to increases in hospitalizations for cerebrovascular disease [strokes] by 0.81% (95% CI 0.3% to 1.32%), peripheral vascular disease by 0.86% (95% CI −0.06% to 1.79%), ischemic heart disease by 0.44% (95% CI 0.02% to 0.86%), arrhythmias by 0.57% (95% CI −0.01% to 1.15%), and heart failure by 1.28 (95% CI 0.78% to 1.78%). The most rapid effects, which occurred largely on the same day of PM2.5 elevation, were seen for cerebrovascular, arrhythmia, and heart failure admissions. Ischemic heart disease events tended to increase to a greater extent 2 days after exposures.




Converting micrograms per cubic meter of particulars in air into weight of particulates through lungs each year

Do not let the air pollution units confuse you. I will convert the micrograms per cubic meter in the air into pounds through your lungs each year.

In major cities there is between 20-370 micrograms of particulates (PM10 10 micron) per cubic meter of air.

Each day you take over 20,000 breaths and breathe about 35 pounds (15.9 kg) of air. At sea level and at 20 °C, dry air has a density of approximately 1.2 kg per m³ (cubic meter). So every day you are breathing 13.2 m³ of air. Therefore,jj

13.2 m³ • 20 micrograms = 265 μG (micrograms) = 0.265 mg (milligrams)
13.2 m³ • 370 micrograms = 4910 μG (micrograms) = 4.91 mg (milligrams)

So 0.2-4.9 mg of particulates enter into your lungs every day unless you live some of the particularly clean air areas.

In one year per the above statistics, 97-1800 mg (0.097 to 1.8 grams) of particulates enter your lungs. So in Beijing (with a very high average particulate load) over 1/8 ounce of particulates gets into each person's lungs each year. This may not sound like a lot, but the lungs don't have very effective mechanisms for expelling particulates that collect, so the effect is mostly accumulative.

The particulates from “smog” are not chemically and biologically inert either. They interact with the lungs, and from there the body, transferring their water and lymph soluble compounds directly to the blood stream. These in turn are well known to cause cardiovascular, pulmonary and hepatotoxic effects.


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