Most Common Pollutants Found in the Air of a Big City

by | Apr 13, 2018 | HVAC

The thick air of a major city can feel suffocating if you aren’t accustomed to the pollutants that flood the air. These major irritants can cause significant health issues that closely resemble the common cold or a severe allergic reaction. You might be sensitive to certain pollutants more than others but avoiding them altogether is nearly impossible when you live in a big city.

Are you curious what you might be breathing in each time you head outside? Take a look at some of the most common air pollutants you’ll find on a busy street according to the EPA’s list of criteria air pollutants.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is any of the solid or liquid items that hang around in the air, including typical pollutants like dust, smoke, and pollen. Most of us have come to accept that particulate matter is going to be around us all the time, but we don’t consider it when talking about common pollutants. Due to the sheer volume of people in the city, there is bound to be more particulate matter in this area.

Photochemical Oxidants

Photochemical oxidants include a wide variety of items such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ozone. They can cause damage to the lungs and sinuses when they release nitrogen oxide. Sunny cities tend to have more harmful effects from photochemical oxidants due to their propensity to react with sunlight.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is often described as a silent killer because this deadly gas is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. It can be found in homes and in the air of major cities. When exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, you might feel as if you are suffering from flu-like symptoms. However, prolonged exposure can actually lead to fatal results.

Sulfur Oxides

Sulfur oxides are a dangerous pollutant to find in the outdoor air of major cities. These chemicals can interact with water to form sulfuric acid, also known as acid rain. This can be extremely detrimental to any of the wildlife or nature found in major cities.

Nitrogen Oxides

At normal levels, nitrogen oxide isn’t necessarily considered to be a health hazard for humans. Unfortunately, it tends to interact with many of the other pollutants found in a major city. Nitrogen oxides can interact with the sulfur oxides and with water to form smog and greater degrees of severe acid rain.


Lead air pollution seems to be growing due to the common reactions found with utilities, batteries, and other types of metal processing. With prolonged exposure, you might develop nervous system, immune system, reproductive system, or cardiovascular system issues that can contribute to a number of serious health conditions.

Installing the proper air filter in your home is one way to eliminate some of these common air pollutants from your home in the big city. Get an experienced HVAC technician to help you change your air filters and recommend the perfect style for your home.

About The Author

John Magninat

John Magninat

Owner John Magninat is a third generation air conditioning repair man. Classic Services Air Conditioning & Heating is a family company with family values and our customers are our top priority.

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