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HOW POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS POLLUTE THE AIR?

Why in news?

Recent findings from researchers at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi on the efficacy of a specific air purifier technology have revealed more about a class of pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Details:

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can associate with other particulate matter, like PM2.5, PM10, and make them more toxic
  • Particulate matter in the ambient air consists mainly of PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles—tiny atmospheric particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, respectively.
  • PAHs are a class of chemicals and compounds that also contribute to air pollution. While PAHs occur naturally in items like crude, coal and gasoline, they can be produced by a variety of anthropogenic activities—like the burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, tobacco, garbage—including the incomplete combustion of organic matter.
  • Forest fires and volcanic eruptions, also contribute to PAHs in the ambient air.
  • When inhaled through particulates, PAHs can cause serious health risks—starting from irritation in the eyes and respiratory passages.
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have classified some PAHs as carcinogenic
  • In Delhi, the agency found PAHs like fluoranthene, chrysene and dibenz(a,h)anthracene, the latter two are classified as “probable carcinogens” by the EPA
  • Plasmacluster ion (PCI) technology releases both positive and negative ions simultaneously into the air; these then recombine on the surface of pollutants floating in the air to create hydroxyl radicals, a type of oxidizing agent



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