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Air_pollution_main report_WEB

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Chapter 2: Summary We tend to think of the environment as the wide outdoor world. But it includes indoor spaces too. Each day we move through a series of micro-environments as we make journeys, go to work or school, or stay in our homes. The air we breathe is different in each place. Outdoors, we are exposed to a range of pollutants, many of which come from vehicles. These include particulates (mostly soot particles from diesel engines) and nitrogen oxides (exhaust gases). We also breathe in ozone, which is produced by chemical reactions in the atmosphere. The quality of air indoors is important too, because we spend so much time inside. So we need to consider things we use every day, from our gas cookers and cleaning and personal care products, to materials for DIY. Pets and insects can also affect some people, as can damp and mould. A few substances, such as cigarette smoke and carbon monoxide, are very serious hazards. Key facts • The most important chemical pollutants in our outdoor air are: ° particulates – small specks of matter such as soot, which can be natural but are primarily from traffic (especially diesel engines) ° nitrogen oxides – gases generated by vehicles, or by chemical reactions in the atmosphere ° ozone – this gas is formed when other pollutants react in the atmosphere. 16 © Royal College of Physicians 2016

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