Air Quality 101
What Air Pollutants in the Baltimore Region Does Traffic Contribute to?
Traffic from vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) in the Baltimore region contributes to fine particulate matter (fine soot) and ground-level ozone, as well as other pollutants. Ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter are a major concern because the region is not reaching federal standards for these pollutants.
How is Ground-Level Ozone Formed?
Ground-level ozone is formed by the combination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sunlight. VOCs come from gasoline, paint, solvents, pesticides and charcoal lighter fluid. They are also formed naturally. NOX comes from cars, trucks, and buses, as well as power plants, and coal-burning stoves.
VOCs + NOX + Sunlight = Ozone
How is Particulate Matter Formed?
Particulate matter is formed both directly and indirectly. It is formed directly by motor vehicles exhaust, fires, power plants, construction dust, and unpaved roads.
Particulate matter is formed indirectly when products of fuel combustion, sunlight, and water vapor react with each other to create particles.
Why should we care?
The issue of air pollution in the Baltimore region is a critical one because ozone and fine particulates can cause respiratory systems and other serious health problems in sensitive populations. In addition, fine particulates can increase rates of cardiovascular illness and may reduce life span.
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