Date: 22 Oct 2012

Air Contaminant Statistical Distributions with Application to PM10 in Santiago, Chile

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Abstract

Breathable air is a gas mixture made up of 78 % nitrogen, 21 % oxygen, and 1 % carbon dioxide and other gases such as argon, radon, and xenon (Pani 2007). Atmospheric contamination is the presence in the air of substances that change its chemical and physical characteristics. Air pollution derives primarily from fossil fuel combustion products that are emitted into the air. In some areas, the effects of air pollution are exacerbated when climatological and geographical factors restrict its dissipation. Over the past decades, the air quality of many urban centers has seriously deteriorated. As a result, millions of people are exposed to pollution levels above the recommended limits by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as indicated by the United Nations Environment Programme. Air pollution is currently a concern in the American region, wherein several capital cities have levels that exceed national and international guideline limits. Such is the case for Santiago, the capital city of Chile, which is among the cities with higher air pollution levels in the world (Ostro 2003). The location of Santiago and the weather it experiences, when combined with high anthropological emissions, create critical air pollution conditions. The interaction of air pollution and heat can impair the health and well-being of people, particularly the elderly and children (Kinney 2008).