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Environmental Hazards and Air Quality

The CDC Office of Global Health estimates that one-quarter of the world's population is exposed toFire as a source of air pollution - Image Source: unhealthy concentrations of air pollutants, such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and other chemicals.  Air pollution is estimated to be responsible for nearly 5% of global disease.

Outdoor air problems largely involve particulate sources such as factories and industrial areas, deforestation, and forest fires; and modes of transportation such as motor vehicles, farm equipment, sea-going vessels, or aircraft.   Studies have shown that poor air quality is a cause of acute respiratory infections, asthma, heart and lung diseases, allergies, and several types of cancers.

A number of hurdles exist to improve air quality.   The main hurdle is the lack of knowledge and data on air pollution and the links to chronic health problems.   Next is the lack of agreement on international standards for aiIndustrial air pollution - Image Source: morguefile.comr quality and emissions, such as the ongoing debate over the 1992 Kyoto Protocols.   Finally, air quality improvements often conflict with international economic trends which range from industrialization to the increase in transcontinental transport, urbanization, and the growth of urban areas.   Even where air quality regulations exist in developing countries, they are rarely enforced.

Air Quality Monitoring

To evaluate air quality, the air must either be sampled and tested with real-time field instrumentation, onsite laboratory analysis, or by the collection of air samples for laboratory analysis.   The evaluation of air quality is complex because contaminant concentrations vary with time, distance from source, and with meteorological conditions.   Because of the adverse health effects of various air contaminants from human activities, a patchwork of international, federal, state (or regional), and local regulations (laws, initiatives, and advisories) have been enacted.   The complexity of air quality evaluation has led to the development of software to assist with monitoring and assessment.

Air Quality Software

Listed below are links to a number of sources of geologic, scientific, and environmental software on our internet software links page.   Some software that can assist with compliance, monitoring, and assessment include:

  • Breeze Air Dispersion Modeling Software can be used to model and visualize components of air pollution.  The software is used by environmental professionals worldwide to analyze the effects of air pollutant emissions and explosions. Breeze is easy to learn and use because it adheres to Microsoft® standards for intuitive, uniform graphical user interfaces, and features standardized toolbars, views, menus, commands, and dialog boxes.
  • US EPA Databases and Software.    This website is a single place to find EPA's data sources so people can access and understand environmental information.
  • Air Pollution Modeling Software (DISPER).   Software for analysis of air pollution in environment: environmental modeling, environmental impact assessment, environmental engineering, environmental consultancy service and environment simulation.  DISPER is a software for  air pollution dispersion analysis. The program calculates the pollutant concentration in each point of the air  considering each one of the pollutant sources and the conditions of the atmosphere. The system of simulation of processes of dispersion that DISPER 5.2 has, offers to the beginner and the expert programmer, a quick and practical system to evaluate the dispersion of pollutants in the air. The program is based on the operating system Microsoft WINDOWS where one works intensively with the mouse and the graphic windows.  We can say, with a certain security that the software DISPER 5.2 is one of the best tools, to carry out numeric simulations of air pollution processes.


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