Particulate Pollution Explained

Particulate pollution is all about small, light-weight, harmful particles floating about in the air of our communities. These, often virtually invisible, particulates frequently have negative impacts on not only our adult respiratory (breathing) systems, but the far more vulnerable respiratory systems of our children and our elders. The lead content in petroleum fluid has been significantly reduced in most civilized nations because it gets expelled in car exhaust fumes; as a polluting particulate it is implicated in the increased incidence of asthmatic symptoms throughout the Western world in the last 50 odd years.

These polluting particulates are produced as a matter of course by the industrial processes of many of our older and less technologically advanced industrial processes. Corporations that employ sufficient people within a geographical region, particularly those regions with high unemployment and/or low economic performance, are often given “free passes” by local government when it comes to the environmental pollution their activities generate, as long as they employ a sufficiently large number of local people. The fact that it is these same local people and their children, relatives and friends that suffer the negative health circumstances from the generated pollution seems to be repeatedly ignored, time and time again. The executive officers and prominent shareholders of the polluting companies rarely put themselves or their families at risk by living local to these manufacturies.

The corporates’ discharges into rivers and streams tend to be more obvious, or at least more easily detectable; despite their defense by local politicians, such abuse of the environment is normally challenged and stopped in larger regional courts. The particulates discharged into the air can be much more difficult to prove or differentiate. Increased incidences of diseases, particularly neoplasms (cancers), are dismissed as coincidental, presented physical evidence as merely circumstantial.

Businesses that engage in the incineration of harmful chemicals, that are either deliberately produced for whatever reason, or are a by-product of an industrial process producing something else, are a particular problem area. Many companies in many countries undertake such activities in an ecologically sensitive and environmentally concerned manner. Naturally, it costs more money to do so than it does to simply dump the toxic chemicals in local waterways or burn them in a simple, relatively low-temperature incinerator. Too many companies turn a blind eye to the methodology of the companies they employ to take care of their waste products; accepting a price they are well aware is below any feasible cost for the disposal of the harmful products produced by their industrial processes.

Some particulate pollution is natural and has occurred for thousands if not millions of years, from geothermal activity, forest fires and other natural circumstances. Most of the particulate pollution we are facing in modern society has anthropogenic (human) origins, the result of our agricultural, industrial and fossil-fuel dependent older technologies. We have the scientific knowledge and ability to no longer require these; unfortunately these older technologies are the power-bases of those that dominate our global society. They will not go away easily.