Comment 6004

By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted March 24, 2007 at 11:08:06

Just to clarify, you mean CO (carbon monoxide) not CO2.

The major air pollutants are:

NOx (nitrous oxides, perhaps the most important factor these days)

PM (particulate matter, usually followed by a size number like 10 microns, this is like 100x worse for diesel engines, hence the visible black smoke)

SOx (sulfur oxides, much lower in recent years because of emission controls on industry and tighter diesel fuel regulations)

CO (carbon monoxide, often we use blood levels to gauge pollution exposure in general, and this is way high in smokers)

O3 (ground level ozone, highly correlated with hot days, a product of sunlight on the chemical soup of smog)

The main effects of these are cardiovascular (as in heart attacks) while respiratory effects are much weaker(as in asthma attacks and bronchitis). That is not intuitive.

Interested people can check the AQI here:

Unfortunately the scale is based only on the highest component and they totally ignore the other four pollutants (instead of a weighted average which makes more sense to me)

Historical data is instuctive, for example yesterday, unseasonably warm day, light breeze from N so steel mill and TO traffic PM2.5 drifts here. Overnight the rain cleans it up:

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