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Atmospheric Pollution

Atmospheric Pollution

I was delighted to respond to an invitation from Ventus Publishing to write a book on atmospheric pollution. It is a topic well enough served by books in the past, but has become increasingly important during these early years of the 21st Century. I believe therefore that there is a place for a review like this one and that notwithstanding the immense activity in the area the ebook will have a reasonable shelf life. This is because it continually relates the discussion to the principles of physics and chemistry, and these do not change.

To have acknowledged each and every one of the electronic sources I have drawn on would not only have lengthened the book to no real purpose but, more seriously, might even have been a distraction to a reader. I am hopeful that this acknowledgement in the preface of such sources will suffice.

I expect that students will benefit from the book as well as those already professionally involved with atmospheric pollution. I also venture to hope that it will of use to those involved in discussion of such matters in the media. I shall be delighted to hear from readers who have comments or suggestions to make.

Air is a gaseous substance, so an understanding of its behaviour requires knowledge of what are known as the gas laws. That is the purpose of this preliminary chapter.


Calculations like those above and variants on them abound in this book and a reader without a grasp of the contents of this part of the text book is at a serious disadvantage. The calculations are in no way difficult even though, in the author’s experience, students at MSc level sometimes find them so. As with any learning or skill, confidence building is essential.

The primary origin is sulphur in fuels. When such fuels are burnt the sulphur goes to sulphur dioxide, which is harmful to humans and to vegetation as well as being a contributor to acid rain. We live in an age in which oil prices influence the world economy strongly and, at times, critically. It is because of the difficulty with sulphur that the sulphur content of a particular crude oil is a factor in its pricing, as will be explained more fully below.

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