Below we have listed some of the most asked questions around air quality emissions, and the inventory we keep. Feel free to read through the questions below. If they do not answer your questions, please feel free to contact us.

What is an emissions inventory?

An emissions inventory is a list or database which catalogues the source of pollutant and the amount of that pollutant released during a specific time frame, e.g. an emissions inventory can be established for a certain region with the aim the identify and quantify all sources of pollution within the vicinity in the last year.

What is an emissions factor?

The emissions factor gives an estimate of the mass of the Pollutant emitted per unit of activity relevant to the emission source. Activity can be expressed in a number of ways, e.g. mass of area covered, mass of product, mass of raw material, etc.

The emissions factor can be used to determine the emission rate of the sources under investigation.

What is a pollutant?

An atmospheric pollutant is a particle or gaseous substance that may have an adverse effect on its surrounding environment and the health of those exposed to it. One good example of a pollutant is that of Carbon Monoxide.

This pollutant is a tasteless, odourless and colourless gas. This pollutant is released into the atmosphere through sources such as: exhausts of internal combustion engines (e.g. petrol vehicles); Industrial processes; coal power plants; and waste incinerators. Long-term exposure to this pollutant at high concentrations can lead to loss of consciousness and death.

How does poor air quality effect the environment?

Poor air quality can have adverse effects on different facets of the environment some of which include changes in climate, visibility, biodiversity, sensitive environments, and water quality. For example, the climate can be affected through trace gases such as greenhouse gases. These gases absorb and emit infrared radiation which raises the temperature of the earth’s surface causing the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Another good example is changes in the chemical balance of dams and rivers because of acid rain. For example, acid rain occurs when SO2 and NOx are emitted into the atmosphere, undergo chemical transformation and are absorbed by water droplets in clouds. The droplets then fall to earth as rain, snow, mist, dust, hail or sleet. This in turn increases the acidity of soil and affects the chemical balance of dams and rivers.

How does poor air quality affect human health ?

Different pollutants affect human health in different ways. There are a number of pollutants that can cause adverse health effect, some of which include Particulate Matter (PM); Sulphur Dioxide (SO2); Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2); Ozone (O3); Carbon Monoxide (CO2) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as Benzene and Toluene. For example, Particulate Matter (PM) will affect the respiratory system.

However the degree of its effect depends on the size of the particle size as it controls where in the respiratory system the particle deposits. For example, larger particles are deposited into the extrathoracic part of the respiratory tract, whereas smaller particles deposits into smaller airways which can lead to respiratory bronchioles.

Another good example is exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is one of the most common and widely distributed air pollutants. The adverse health effects of CO vary depending on the concentration and time of exposure. Clinical symptoms range from headaches, nausea and vomiting, muscular weakness, and shortness of breath at low concentrations (10 ppm) to loss of consciousness and death after prolonged exposure or after acute exposure to high CO concentrations (>500 ppm).