Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Produced during the incomplete combustion of carbon compounds such as fossil fuels, this gas is known to be deleterious to human health. During respiration it readily combines with haemoglobin in the blood thus hindering the body’s ability to take up oxygen. It is thought therefore to aggravate respiratory and heart disease.
Carbon monoxide also contributes to global warming to a small degree. This it does indirectly after first taking part in chemical reactions within the atmosphere. One such reaction would be with oxygen, forming carbon dioxide and thus contributing to the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
As a result of the high temperatures occurring during combustion, nitrogen combines with oxygen from the air forming oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2, N2O etc.). These gases are known to be responsible for acid deposition via the formation of nitric acid. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is toxic even in small concentrations and is known to cause and aggravate human respiratory diseases. Nitrous oxide (N2O) also contributes directly to global warming and is responsible for around 7% of the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Particulates, commonly known as ‘black smoke’, are fine particles produced by incomplete combustion, the burning of lubrication oil and by the presence of impurities within the fuel. Typically with a dimension of the order of 10 microns or less (known as ‘PM10’), they are known to cause and aggravate human respiratory diseases and are thought to be carcinogenic. The World Health Organisation has issued a report stating that there are no concentrations of airborne micro-sized particulate matter that are not hazardous to human health.