Glossary of AQ Terms
Glossary of terms used when discussing air pollution:
Acid rain: precipitation that is more acidic than normal because it contains sulfuric acid and nitric acid derived from oxides of sulfur (SOx) and nitrogen (NOx) in the atmosphere. Acidity can also originate from atmospheric particulate matter (PM10).
Acute: immediate, brief, and severe - in reference to the duration of exposure or to the effects of pollutants, those effects-that follow exposure more or less immediately as a direct reaction to exposure.
Aerosol: a gas that contains suspended solid particles or droplets of liquid able to stay suspended in air because of their very small size (usually less than one micrometer in diameter).
Air pollutant: an airborne substance occurring in the ambient air which has potential to cause harm to human health or welfare or to plant and animal
life or materials.
Airshed: a geographical region with some sort of natural boundaries which demonstrates common production and exchange of air pollutants.
Alveoli: small air "sacks" deep in the lungs where exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs. Alveoli are delicate structures which are prone to damage from air pollutants.
Ambient air: outside air; the air around us.
Ambient air quality standard: federal limit for a pollutant in ambient air that serves as a target in local air quality improvement or protection programs. The primary standard protects public health; the secondary standard protects public welfare. The federal government establishes air quality standards, but more strict standards may be established by state governments.
Asthma: a respiratory disease characterized by the narrowing of the respiratory pathways and the excess production of mucus, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing and coughing. Asthma is usually caused or aggravated by allergies and air pollution.
Biodegradable pollutant: a pollutant which can be detoxified in some manner in the environment. Detoxification can take from minutes to years.
Bronchitis: a lung disorder characterized by inflammation and irritation of bronchi (airways of the lower respiratory tract). Bronchitis appears to be caused and aggravated by smoking and air pollution.
Cancer: a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrollable growth of cells. These cells invade surrounding tissues, interrupting organ function and often causing death.
Carcinogen: a substance which causes cancer. Numerous chemical compounds common in polluted air and water are carcinogens.
Chronic: long-lasting or long-term in reference to either duration of exposure or effect of exposure to a pollutant. (Example: Exposure to even low levels
of ozone can result in permanent scaring of the lungs causing chronic lung disease.)
Concentration: the amount of a substance in a given volume of air, water or other medium. (Example: PM10 concentration is measured as the weight [micrograms] of small particles in a cubic meter of ambient air.)
Convection: the movement of air or water upward as a result of heating, which causes a decrease in the density in the air or water and makes it rise. Convection currents in air tend to disperse air pollutants as the pollutants are carried
up and away from the surface of the earth.
Electrostatic precipitator: a pollution control device for removing particulate matter. Precipitators work by creating an electrical charge on the particles and then attracting them to plates with the opposite charge. Particulate matter is then
cleaned off of the plates.
Emission: discharge of a pollutant from some source into the environment.
Emission standard: limit in the amount of a pollutant that can be legally discharged into the environment from a particular source. Under the Clean Air Act of 1970, emissions from existing sources are controlled by the states under State Implementation Plans (SlP) approved by the EPA. The federal government retained control over new sources, establishing maximum emission standards for any new plants built in any state.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the federal agency charged with the enforcement of all federal regulations having to do with environmental pollutants. The address is 401 M Street N.W., Washington, DC 20460.
Epidemiology: an investigative approach to disease that looks for the factors that account for the frequency and patterns of disease within defined populations.
Fly ash: gas-borne solid particles resulting from the combustion of fuel and other materials.
Hazardous waste: any substance discarded into the air or water or onto the land which poses a hazard to human health or welfare or to the environment.
Industrial smog: pollution produced by industries composed mostly of particulate matter and sulfur oxides produced primarily by the burning of coal and oil. Industrial smog is characterized by a brown haze (as compared to photochemical smog which tends to be gray).
Infectious disease: a disease caused by agents including bacteria, viruses or parasitic worms. Since air pollution negatively impacts the immune system, the incidence of infectious diseases increases with increased air pollution.
Internal costs: costs of production that are directly borne by the producer or consumer of a product. These costs exclude external costs such as pollution, environmental damage and nuisance and aesthetic degradation to the surrounding
Mutagen: anything capable of increasing the rate of genetic mutation in living organisms. Radioactive substances and many chemicals commonly found in air pollution are important mutagens.
Nonbiodegradable pollutant: a pollutant which retains its toxicity for extremely long periods of time. Some lead and mercury compounds and radioactive substances are nonbiodegradable pollutants.
Noninfectious disease: an illness not caused by a disease-causing organism or virus. Examples include heart disease, bronchitis, some cancers and asthma. Unlike infectious diseases, when air pollution indirectly influences the incidence of disease, air pollution is actually the causal agent of some non-infectious diseases.
Ozone: a gas (O2) resulting from complex chemical reactions in the atmosphere between hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sunlight. Ozone in the lower atmosphere is a dangerous pollutant. In the upper atmosphere, ozone is important in filtering out ultraviolet radiation, thus protecting against such human ailments as
skin cancer and cataracts.
PANs (peroxeyl nitrates): important components of photochemical smog formed from the reaction of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sunlight. PANs are strong oxidants and can have a significant negative impact upon human health.
Particulate: a small particle of solid matter or a droplet of liquid of a size that allows it to remain suspended in air.
Parts per billion (ppb): the number of parts of a given substance in a billion parts of some other substance. (Example: In the ambient air, 1 ppb lead represents one part of lead per 1 billion parts of air.)
Parts per million (ppm): the number of parts of a given substance in a million parts of some other substance. (Example: In the ambient air, 1 ppm lead represents one part of lead per 1 million parts of air.)
PM10: fine particulate matter suspended in the atmosphere. PM10 particles have a diameter of less than 10 micrometers.
Photochemical reaction: a chemical reaction that is activated by sunlight. Photochemical reactions are common in the formation of secondary air
Photochemical smog: collection of harmful materials in the air resulting from the action of sunlight on nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and other chemicals in the air. Photochemical smog generally develops in cites with warm climates or during summer months.
Pollutant Standard Index (PSI): a calculation by formula of the degree to which air quality relates to the standards set by the EPA for each of the major pollutants.
Pollution: the addition of an undesirable substance to the air, water or soil that in some manner damages the biological, structural or aesthetic value of the ecosystem. Pollution often effects the health and welfare of humans.
Primary air pollutant: an air pollutant that is released directly by a pollution emission source. Primary pollutants are differentiated from secondary pollutants which form chemically in the atmosphere by the reaction of primary pollutants.
Risk assessment: the process of determining the adverse consequences of some technology or process to the individual and/or the society. Risk assessment must deal with both short-term and long-term risks.
Scrubber: a pollution control device that sprays a stream of water across or through a stream of polluted air to remove pollutants. Scrubbers are widely used in a variety of combustion processes.
Secondary air pollutant: an air pollutant that forms in the atmosphere by chemical reactions. Secondary pollutants are not released as emissions by pollution sources. It is difficult to obtain accurate estimates concerning the number of secondary air pollutants. Some experts put the number at around 30,000.
Smog: a term that combines the words "smoke" and "fog," coined originally in Los Angeles to characterize a visible combination of smoke and fog. Photochemical smog is the result of the interaction between nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons
under the influence of sunlight.
Synergism: an interaction in which the total effect of the interaction is greater than the sum of the two taken separately. Air pollutants often create a synergistic effect on human health.
Synfuels: synthetic gaseous and liquid fuels synthesized from coal or other sources.
Thermal inversion: an atmospheric meteorological condition in which a layer of warm air acts like a lid to trap a layer of cold air beneath it. This frustrates the normal convection of air upward as the surface of the earth is heated. Air
pollution levels often reach very high levels during periods of thermal inversion.
TSP (total suspended particulates): suspended particulate matter of variable size. TSP was formerly regulated by the EPA. Recent studies have indicated however, that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has the strongest negative impact on
human health. Thus, the EPA now regulates PM10 and PM 2.5, rather than TSP.
Urban heat island (urban inversion): a situation functionally similar to a natural thermal inversion. Human activities in urban areas often create a warm "island" of air that can trap air pollutants.
Glossary terms provided by:
Utah County Clean Air Coalition • P.O. Box 1342 • Orem, UT 84059-1342
Air Permitting and Clean Air Act Related Acronyms:
ACGIH American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
AIRS Aerometric Information Rertrieval System
AP-42 Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors
API American Paper Institute/American Petroleum Institute
AQCR Air Quality Control Region
ASTM American Society for Testing & Materials
AWMA Air & Waste Management Assocation
BACT Best Available Control Technology
BDT Best Demonstrated Technology
BID Background Information Documents
BIF Boilers and Indutrial Furnaces (EPA's)
CAA Clean Air Act
CAAA Clean Air Act Amendments
CAS Chemical Abstract Service
CEM Continuous Emissions Monitoring
CEMS Continuous Emissions Monitoring Sytems
CERCLA Comprehinsive Environmental Responsbility, Compensation and Liability Act
CFR Code of Fedral Regulations
CMA Chemical manufactures Assocation
CTG Control Technique Guideline CAA Section 183
DOE Departmet of Energy
DOJ Department of Justice
DOT Department of Transportaion
DSCF Dry Standard Cubic Feet (or Foot)
DSCM Dry Standard Cubic Meters
EA Environmental Assessment
EI Emissions Inventory
EIS Emissions Inventory Statement
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
EPCRA Emergecy Planning and Community Right-to-Know Ac
ESP Electrostatic Precipitator
FGR Flue Gas Recirculation
FIP Federal Implementaion Plan
FR Federal Register
GACT Generally Available Control Techology
GAQM Guideline on Air Quality Models
GEP Good Engineering Practice
GIS Geographic Information System
HAP Hazardous Air Pollutant
HHV Higher Heating Volume
HON Hazardous Organic NESHAP (see NESHAP below)
IDLH Immediate Danger to Life& Health
ISCLT Indutrial Source Complex Long-Term Model
ISCST Industrial Source Complex Short-Term Model
LAER Lowest Achievable Emission Rate
LHV Low Heating Value
MACT Maximum Achievable Emission Rate
MMBtu Million British Thermal Units
MPTER Multiple Point Gaussion Dispersion Algorithm with Terrain Adjustment
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet
MSW Municipal Solid Waste
MWC Municipal Waste Combuster
NAAQS Natioanal Ambient Air Quality Standards Title I
NADP National Atmospheric Deposition Program
NAPAP Natioanl Acid Precipitation Assessment Program
NCASI Natioanl Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvment
NESHAPs National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
NOV Notice of Violation
NPDES National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
NSPS New Source Performance Standard
NSR New Source Review
OAQPS Office of Air Quality Planning and Studies
OMB Office of Management and Budget
OSHA Occuaptional Safety &Health Administration
PSD Prevetion of Significant Deterioration
PTE Potential to Emit
RACT Reasonably Available Control Technology
RCRA Resource Conservation and Control Act
RDF Refuse Derived Fuel
RFP Reasonable Further Progress/Request for Proposal
ROM Regional Oxidant Model
SCAQMD South Coast Air Quality Management (in California)
SCC Souce Classification Code
SCR Selective Catalytic Reduction
SIC Standard Industrial Classification
SIP State Implementaion Plan
SNCR Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction
SOCMI Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacuring Industry
TLV Health Threshold Limit Value
TRI Toxic Release Inventory
TRIS Toxic Release Information System
TSCA Toxic Substances Control Act
UAM Urban Airshed Model
USC United States Code
USGS U.S. Geological Survey
UTM Universal Transverse Mercator
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