Stuart Jeffery

Pollutants and Sources


PM2.5 – Inhalation of particulate pollution can have adverse health impacts, and there is understood to be no safe threshold below which no adverse effects would be anticipated. The biggest impact of particulate air pollution on public health is understood to be from long-term exposure to PM2.5, which increases the age-specific mortality risk, particularly from cardiovascular causes.

It is estimated that approximately 3% of cardiopulmonary and 5% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to PM globally

NOxNOx has short term effects including respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems and an increase in mortality. Long term effects include increased respiratory and cardiovascular mortality, children’s respiratory symptoms and reduced lung function.

Plastic – Unknown! But micro plastic is raining on us and it can’t be good…

Scent / chemicals – According to studies around a quarter of people report sensitivity to chemicals and perfumes with symptoms of anxiety, respiratory irritation, palpitations. There is currently no strong evidence on longer term impacts.

PM10 – Short term impacts are on respiratory health. It is estimated that approximately 3% of cardiopulmonary and 5% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to PM globally.

Ozone / O3  – an increase in 8-hour average ozone concentration by 100 µg.m-3 is expected to induce:

        • 25% increase in symptom exacerbation among adults and asthmatics involved in normal activities
        • 10% increase in hospital admissions for respiratory conditions.
        • An increase in ‘all-cause’ mortality and reduced lung function.


Vehicles: Older diesels especially, but all fossil fuel burning emits pollution and even electric cars give some pollution from their brakes and tyres. In increasing order of pollution: people power (walking and cycling), electric vehicles, then hybrids, then petrol and finally diesel.

Wood burning and biomass: They may be trendy but burning wood is not neighbourly! In poorer countries burning wood for cooking is a problem too. Biomass energy generation generally has filters on the emissions but it is worth checking those near you.

Perfumes and household: Chemical irritants affect around 25% of people, coughing and sneezing are the most common symptoms. Try to cut down on unneccesary fragrances.

Power stations: Coal is gradually disappearing from power generation but it has been the dirtiest fuel. Oil is better and gas better still but both give off pollution into the air. Best is wind, wave and sun!

Other: Shipping – a large container ship can emit the same amount of sulphur dioxide as 50 million cars (they burn cheap nasty oil).