- Acid rain
Falling rain (or snow) which has become acidic
(pH less than 5.6) as a result of its
combination with gaseous pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide
nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Acid rain may cause acidification of surface waters, soils and
- Air pollution hot spot
A location where emissions from specific sources may expose individuals and population groups to elevated risks of adverse health effects - including but not limited to cancer - and contribute to the cumulative health risks of emissions from other sources in the area.
California Air Resources Board
Glossary of Air Pollution Terms
Allergies are inappropriate or exaggerated reactions of the immune system to
substances that, in the majority of people, cause no symptoms.
Symptoms of the allergic diseases may be caused by exposure of the skin to a
chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen (or other
substances), or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food.
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
"The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States, representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.
The mission of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the advancement of the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology for optimal patient care."
(Source: AAAAI website )
- American Lung Association
The American Lung Association® (ALA) is a voluntary health organization in the United States.
"...the American Lung Association® today fights lung disease in all its forms, with special emphasis on asthma, tobacco control and environmental health. "
(Source: ALA website )
A usually chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by
intermittent episodes of wheezing, coughing, and difficulty in breathing,
sometimes caused by an allergy to inhaled substances.
(Source: American Lung Association
Bacteria are a major group of micro-organisms that live in soil, water,
plants, organic matter, or the bodies of animals or people. They are microscopic
and mostly unicellular, with a relatively simple cell structure.
Some bacteria cause diseases such as tetanus, typhoid fever, pneumonia,
syphilis, cholera, and tuberculosis.
Bacteria play a role in the decomposition of organic matter and other chemical
Inflammation of the bronchioles, the smallest air passages of the lungs.
The term usually refers to acute viral bronchiolitis, a common disease of the respirtatory tract that is caused by viruses and that commonly affects children under twelve months of age.
Inflammation of the bronchi, the main air
passages that lead to the lungs.
Bronchitis causes a persistent cough and phlegm production. It is especially
common in smokers and in areas with atmospheric pollution.
(Source: GreenFacts based on Urologychannel
Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently;
used to describe ongoing exposures and
effects that develop only after a long exposure.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems.
It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma.
COPD is a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States.
Facts About COPD
- Climate change
The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other
aspects of the Earth's climate.
It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as
“change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity
that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to
natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”
- Cystic fibrosis
Hereditary disease whose symptoms usually appear shortly after birth. They include faulty digestion, breathing difficulties and respiratory infections due to mucus accumulation, and excessive loss of salt in sweat.
In the past, cystic fibrosis was almost always fatal in childhood, but treatment is now so improved that patients commonly live to their 20s and beyond.
NIH office of science education
- Dust mites
Microscopic animals, related to spiders, that thrive in homes in beds and carpets and that are a major cause of asthma and allergic rhinitis.
They eat microscopic moulds and skin dander, and then leave their droppings behind. These droppings are the source of the irritating and allergenic effects of the dust mite.
- Environment DG
"The Environment DG is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make up the European Commission. Its main role is to initiate and define new environmental legislation and to ensure that measures, which have been agreed, are actually put into practice in the Member States."
The mission statement of the Environment DG is: "to promote Sustainable Development, preserving the rights of future generations to a viable environment; to work towards a high level of environmental and health protection and improvement of the quality of life; to promote environmental efficiency; to encourage the equitable use, as well as the sound and effective management, of common environmental resources"
(Source: EC DG ENVI website )
EurActiv is the leading internet portal fully dedicated to European public affairs.
It brings together daily EU news, weekly "Update" e-mails, in-depth analysis of selected policy topics, and a directory of 10,000 names of names of people and organizations acting on the EU level, the "Guide". All content is free of charge.
EurActiv aims to "facilitate efficiency and transparency (...) by providing news monitoring, policy positions, discussion forums and contacts on selected EU affairs topics, complementing the existing institutional websites."
(Source: EurActiv website )
- European Commission
"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the
[European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system.
Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to
administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly
with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly
those relating to trade and cooperation."
The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and
specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG.
- European Environmental Agency
The European Environmental Agency (EEA) is one of the 15 specialised agencies of the European Union, which handle specific technical, scientific or management tasks. Operational since 1994, the EEA is based in Copenhagen.
"Its mission is to collect, prepare and disseminate timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information on the state and trends of the environment at European level. The founding regulation of EEA stipulates that it is open to countries that do not belong to the European Union but share its concern for the environment. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have been members from the start, and 12 out of 13 candidate countries have joined in 2002 (...)."
(Source: EEA website )
- European Respiratory Society
"Founded in 1990, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) is a nonprofit making, international medical organisation with over 7,000 members from 100 countries. It is the biggest society in Europe in its field."
(Source: ERS website )
- European Union
"The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing states, but it is more than any other international organisation. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.This pooling of sovereignty is also called "European integration". "
(Source: EU website )
Contact of the cells of an organism with
a substance, micro-organism or
radiation. In the case of humans, this may involve contact with a
substance or agent by swallowing, breathing, or through the skin or eyes.
Exposure may be short-term [acute exposure],
of intermediate duration, or long-term
Exposure can be divided into external and internal.
External exposure refers to the whole dose to which an
organism is exposed.
Internal exposure refers only to that fraction of the initial
chemical dose that is absorbed and distributed throughout the body via systemic
Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event
occurs per unit of time.
The frequency of wave-like patterns including sound, electromagnetic waves
(such as radio or light), electrical signals, or other waves, expresses the
number of cycles of the repetitive waveform per second.
In SI units, the result is measured in Hertz (Hz), named after the German
physicist, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. 1 Hz means one cycle (or wave) per second.
Frequency has an inverse relationship to the concept of wavelength (the
distance between two peeks) such that the frequency is equal to the velocity
divided by the wavelength.
The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring.
Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a
Talking Glossary of Genetic
Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are
produced by the endocrine glands and then
sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is
a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our
growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function.
- Immune system
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work
together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders.
The process of protecting an individual against communicable diseases by administering a vaccine.
The vaccine generally contains weakened or killed infectious organisms or parts of their structure.
The objective is to cause the immune system to produce antibodies against the organism without causing the full-blown disease, in order to allow the immune system to prevent infection or illness when it subsequently encounters the infectious organism.
GreenFacts, based on Teach online
- Lung function
The term "lung function" refers to how well a person is breathing.
A state of bad nourishment.
Malnutrition refers both to undernutrition and overnutrition, as well as to
conditions arising from dietary imbalances leading to diet-related
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary
Any living organism that is too small to be seen by the naked eye such as
bacteria, viruses, protozoa, single-celled algae, and many types of fungi.
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
NOx is the generic term for a group of highly reactive gases, all
of which contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts [such as
oxide (NO) and
nitrogen dioxide (NO2)].
Many of the nitrogen oxides are colorless and odorless. However, one common
pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) along with particles in the air can often be
seen as a reddish-brown layer over many urban areas.
Nitrogen oxides form when fuel is burned [...]. The primary sources of NOx are
motor vehicles, electric utilities, and other industrial, commercial, and
residential sources that burn fuels.
In the atmosphere, nitrogen oxides can contribute to formation of
photochemical ozone (smog) and have health consequences. They also lead to acid
rain and contribute to global warming.
NOx: What is it? Where does it come from?
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats found primarily in
fish, fish oils, vegetable oils, and leafy green vegetables. They seem to reduce
the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Ozone is a form of oxygen having the molecular form of O3. It is a
bluish, unstable gas with a pungent odour, found in two parts of the atmosphere:
the stratosphere and the troposphere.
The ozone layer: The stratosphere contains a layer in which
the concentration of ozone is greatest, the so called ozone layer. The layer
extends from about 12 to 40 km. It shields the Earth from ultraviolet
radiation's harmful health effects on humans and the environment. This layer is
being depleted by human emissions of chlorine- and bromine-containing compounds.
Ground-level ozone: At ground level (in the troposphere),
ozone is considered an air pollutant that can seriously affect the human
respiratory system. It is a chemical oxidant and a major component of
- Particulate matter
Sum of all microscopic solid and liquid particles, of human and natural
origin, that remain suspended in a medium such as air for some time. These
particles vary greatly in size, composition, and origin, and may be harmful.
Particulate matter may be in the form of fly ash, soot, dust, fog, fumes etc.
- Passive smoking
Passive smoking is defined as the involuntary inhalation of somebody else’s
tobacco smoke. Such secondhand tobacco smoke is a mixture of mainstream smoke
exhaled by active smokers and sidestream smoke released from the smouldering
tobacco and diluted with ambient air. Usually passive smoking occurs in a closed
environment, but it can also happen in an open environment. Passive smokers
inhale carcinogens, as well as other toxic components, that are present in
secondhand tobacco smoke.
- PM10, PM2.5, PM0.1
PM stands for particulate matter suspended in air.
PM followed by a number refers to all particles with a certain maximum size
(aerodynamic diameter). All smaller particles are included.
PM0.1 is particulate matter with an aerodynamic
diameter of up to 0.1 µm, referred to as the ultrafine particle fraction.
PM2.5 is particulate matter with an aerodynamic
diameter of up to 2.5 µm, referred to as the fine particle fraction (which per
definition includes the ultrafine particles).
PM10 is particulate matter with an aerodynamic
diameter of up to 10 µm, i.e. the fine and coarse particle fractions combined.
, & PM0.1
Inflammation of lung
alveoli, the tiny air sacs deep within the
lungs where carbon dioxide and oxygen are
Pneumonia can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle stiffness, chest
pain, coughing up of phlegm, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and
The disease can be acute or
chronic and is usually caused by
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
A group of over 100 different organic compounds composed of several benzene
rings. Some of them are persistent and carcinogenic.
PAHs are commonly formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas,
garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat.
Generally, tobacco smoke is by far the most important source of exposure for
The pronounced deprivation of well-being.
Income poverty refers to a particular formulation expressed solely in terms of
per capita or household income.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
The frequency of a disease may be measured in two (standard) ways:
- Prevalence is the total number of persons known to have had the disease at
any time during a specific period. It gives an idea of the importance/burden of
disease at a given time, and it is widely used in public health monitoring and
- Primary & Secondary pollutant
A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted directly from
A secondary pollutant is not directly emitted as such, but
forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere.
Examples of a secondary pollutant include ozone, which is formed when
hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine in the presence of sunlight;
NO2, which is formed as NO combines with oxygen in the air; and acid rain, which
is formed when sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides react with water.
- Respiratory tract
The organs that are involved in breathing.
These include the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Also
known as the respiratory system.
(Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Glossary
Rhinitis is an inflammation of the cells lining the nose resulting from the
inhalation of an allergen.
The symptoms include nasal obstruction, runny nose and sneezing. Rhinitis can
be seasonal, e.g. allergy to pollen (hay fever), or [occur] all year round -
e.g. allergy to animals or dust.
(Source: Asthmacure.com Glossary
- Scientific Consensus
The Scientific Consensus represents the position generally agreed upon
at a given time by most scientists
specialized in a given field.
- Secondhand tobacco smoke
Secondhand tobacco smoke is the smoke inhaled by passive smokers.
It is a
mixture of smoke exhaled by smokers (mainstream smoke) and smoke released from
their smouldering cigarette, cigar, or other smoking device (sidestream smoke)
diluted with ambient air.
Secondhand tobacco smoke contains carcinogens, as well
as other toxic components.
In the context of allergies, sensitization is the process by which a person
becomes, over time, increasingly allergic to a substance (sensitiser) through
repeated exposure to that substance
- Sudden infant death syndrome
The diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age
that remains unexplained after a complete investigation.
Because most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is sleeping in a crib, SIDS is
also commonly known as crib death.
Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between 1 and 4 months of age.
(Source: Women's Health Zone
- Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
A corrosive gas produced by the burning of fuels, such as coal and oil, that
contain sulphur. It is also produced from sea spray, organic decomposition and
When combined with water in the air, it produces a weak, corrosive sulfuric
acid - an ingredient of "acid rain".
The likelihood of producing a significantly larger-than-average response to a
specified exposure to a substance.
A pattern of change over time, over and above short-term fluctuations.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a
bacterium, most commonly
Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It affects
tissues in the human body, mainly the lungs
(pulmonary tuberculosis). It causes small
tumors that destroy the tissue.
Symptoms include cough, fatigue, weight loss, difficulty breathing, and fever.
- Ventilation rate
The amount of air inhaled in a specified time period (e.g., per minute, per
hour, per day, etc.); also called breathing rate and inhalation rate.
Glossary and List of
A virus is a small organism which can infect other biological organisms.
Viruses can only reproduce by invading and taking over cells as they lack the
cellular machinery for self reproduction.
They cause diseases in human beings, animals, plants and bacteria.
Examples of human diseases caused by viruses include the common cold,
AIDS, and cold sores.
- Volatile organic compound
Any organic (carbon-containing) compound that evaporates readily to the
atmosphere at room temperature.
VOCs contribute significantly to smog production and certain health problems.
VOCs often have odors, examples include gasoline, alcohol, and the solvents
used in paints.
- World Health Organization
"The World Health Organization
(WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on
international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce
health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health
issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments
can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.
193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every
year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization,
approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the
Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board,
which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health
matters of a regional nature."
WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.
The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of