Air pollution are substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to people and planet. This includes gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides and methane, particulate matter and toxic substances such as cadmium, mercury, chromium and lead. Both human activity and natural processes can generate air pollution. The following are common examples.
Agricultural Soil Emissions
Controlled Burning (e.g. forest management)
Cooking - Fuel Burning
Dust (e.g. dust storms related to desertification)
Fires / Wildfires
Fumes from Construction (e.g. paint fumes)
Fumes from Consumer Products (e.g. aerosol sprays)
Fumes from Industrial Processes & Facilities
Heating - Fuel Burning
Herbicides & Fungicides
Industrial Smoke Stacks
Marine Vessel Emissions
Methane from Animals
Methane from Waste (e.g. landfills)
Motor Vehicle Exhaust
Oil & Gas - leaks, flaring and venting
Pesticide Drift & Volatilization
Power Station Emissions
Radioactive Decay (e.g. radon gas from the Earth's crust)
Retail Emissions (e.g. dry cleaning)
Space Industry Emissions (e.g. rocket emissions)
Traditional Burning Practices
Trains (e.g. diesel locomotives)
Uncontrolled Burning of Garbage and Other Waste
Volatile Organic Compounds from Vegetation
War & Military Activity
DiscussionCombustion is a primary source of air pollution.Technology such as catalytic converters can greatly reduce air pollution. For example, it is common for small motorcycles and scooters to produce far more air pollution than large vehicles such as SUVs because they are often exempt from having emissions control devices. †,‡Some air pollutants, particularly, carbon dioxide, play a role in ecosystems but can be produced in excess so as to be harmful.
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References † Motorcycles Pollute More Than SUVs, Chuk Squatriglia, Wired, June 18th, 2008.‡ Motorcycles Emit 'Disproportionately High' Amounts Of Air Pollutants, American Chemical Society, January 1, 2006.
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