Environmental Hazards and Air Quality
The CDC Office of Global Health estimates that one-quarter of the world's population is exposed to 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 air 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: