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The dangerous pollutants

With air quality monitors from Sensorbee you can monitor the pollutants in the air and take action against poor air quality. But what pollutants are we talking about? Let’s take a closer look at these greenhouse gases.

You have probably heard about them many times. These pollutants have been the centre of attention for a long time when it comes to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, has been studying and reporting about the effects of greenhouse gases for more than 30 years. But these emissions have been known and measured for a much longer time. A Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius was the first person to calculate the greenhouse effect focusing on CO2 using basic principles of physical chemistry as early as 1896. It is said that modern science focusing on climate change and pollutants started in the 1950s and 60s.

The pollutants in focus for Sensorbee

So, what pollutants and greenhouse gases are the main focus for air quality monitors from Sensorbee?

CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the fourth most abundant gas in the atmosphere being the main greenhouse gas. Burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the main causes of the increased levels of CO2 and also the main causes of global warming and climate change. Plants, algae and cyanobacteria use carbon dioxide in a process which we know as the photosynthesis, and produce oxygen as a waste product. Us humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2. Carbon dioxide is a natural gas around us, but increased levels since the start of the industrial revolution contribute to the greenhouse effect and higher temperatures. Too much CO2 in the air we breathe is dangerous and will cause unconsciousness and suffocation.

NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) is mainly found in combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. By natural causes it is introduced to the environment through bacterial respiration, volcanoes and lightning. Nitrogen dioxide as a greenhouse gas is absorbing sunlight and regulating the chemistry of the troposphere, the layer closest to us in the atmosphere. The most prominent source of NO2 is vehicles with internal combustion engines. High levels of nitrogen dioxide in cities are mainly caused by traffic. NO2 can affect your lung capacity and is linked to developing asthma in children. Nitrogen dioxide is a common indoor pollutant through for example gas stoves and tobacco smoke.

O3 (ozone) exists in both the stratosphere and the troposphere. In the stratosphere it is an important gas to protect the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In the troposphere it is a greenhouse gas and prevents heat from leaving the earth. O3 can also be found closer to the ground, for example in lightning, urban smog and it is an attractive gas in several industries. O3 has a specific smell and it can cause harm to the photosynthesis in plants and cause injuries to the lungs in humans.

SO2 (sulfur dioxide) is invisible and has a particular smell to it, the smell of burnt matches. It is produced by the combustion of any substance that contains sulfur, such as sulfur-bearing fossil fuels and in the process of copper extraction. SO2 is released naturally by volcanic activity.

SO2 exposure can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat with symptoms such as nasal mucus, choking, cough, and reflex bronchi constriction. Long-exposure to SO2 affects the lung defences and worsens existing cardiovascular disease. It also causes damage to animals and plants and it creates acid rain when oxidised to sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

CO (carbon monoxide) is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that is lethal. It is produced when fuel burns in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. When CO is inhaled, it mixes with the red blood cells and prevents transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream. The exposure of CO to a person can cause illness and even death. Carbon dioxide is not directly a greenhouse gas, but it affects the abundance of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

All thes pollutants are the main focus for us at Sensorbee. Our goal is to fight poor air quality and help people take action against climate change through monitoring and data. Do you want to read more about our air quality monitors? Click here.

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