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Air Pollution: Causes and Effects

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Updated: 30 November, 2023

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Air Pollution Essay: Hook Examples

  • The Silent Killer: Delve into the invisible threat that surrounds us every day, affecting our health, environment, and future generations – air pollution.
  • Gasping for Breath: Paint a vivid picture of individuals struggling to breathe in polluted cities, highlighting the urgency of addressing this pressing issue.
  • Nature’s S.O.S: Explore how wildlife and ecosystems send distress signals through the impact of air pollution, underscoring the interconnectedness of all living beings.
  • The Economic Toll: Uncover the hidden costs of air pollution on healthcare, productivity, and quality of life, revealing the far-reaching consequences of our actions.
  • Clean Air, Clear Future: Imagine a world where we embrace cleaner technologies and sustainable practices, offering a vision of hope and change in the fight against air pollution.

Works Cited

  • Agarwal, A., & Agarwal, S. (2020). Air Pollution: Sources, Effects, and Control. CRC Press.
  • Cohen, A. J., Brauer, M., Burnett, R., Anderson, H. R., Frostad, J., Estep, K., … & Balakrishnan, K. (2017). Estimates and 25-year trends of the global burden of disease attributable to ambient air pollution: an analysis of data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2015. The Lancet, 389(10082), 1907-1918.
  • Guttikunda, S. K., & Gurjar, B. R. (2012). Role of meteorology in seasonality of air pollution in megacity Delhi, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(5), 3199-3211.
  • He, G., Ying, Q., Ma, Y., Cheng, L., Wang, Y., & Liu, Y. (2016). Health risks of air pollution in China: a special focus on particulate matter. Environmental Pollution, 211, 17-30.
  • Heyder, J., Gebhart, J., Rudolf, G., & Schiller, C. (1986). St deposition in the human respiratory tract as determined by cyclone techniques. Environmental Health Perspectives, 66, 149-159.
  • Khan, M. N., Islam, M. M., Siddiqui, M. N., & Islam, M. S. (2019). Sources and Impact of Air Pollution on Human Health. In Sustainable Environment and Transportation (pp. 307-334). Springer.
  • Kumar, P., Kumar, A., & Goyal, P. (2020). Air Pollution: Measurement, Modelling and Mitigation. CRC Press.
  • Lelieveld, J., Evans, J. S., Fnais, M., Giannadaki, D., & Pozzer, A. (2015). The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature, 525(7569), 367-371.

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What is air pollution?

What causes air pollution, effects of air pollution, air pollution in the united states, air pollution and environmental justice, controlling air pollution, how to help reduce air pollution, how to protect your health.

Air pollution  refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the  World Health Organization (WHO) , each year, indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe. Ninety-nine percent of human beings currently breathe air that exceeds the WHO’s guideline limits for pollutants, with those living in low- and middle-income countries suffering the most. In the United States, the  Clean Air Act , established in 1970, authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard public health by regulating the emissions of these harmful air pollutants.

“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says  John Walke , director of the Clean Air team at NRDC. Driving a car on gasoline, heating a home with oil, running a power plant on  fracked gas : In each case, a fossil fuel is burned and harmful chemicals and gases are released into the air.

“We’ve made progress over the last 50 years in improving air quality in the United States, thanks to the Clean Air Act. But climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution standards, which are designed to  protect health ,” says Walke.

Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for early death. According to the 2020  State of Global Air  report —which summarizes the latest scientific understanding of air pollution around the world—4.5 million deaths were linked to outdoor air pollution exposures in 2019, and another 2.2 million deaths were caused by indoor air pollution. The world’s most populous countries, China and India, continue to bear the highest burdens of disease.

“Despite improvements in reducing global average mortality rates from air pollution, this report also serves as a sobering reminder that the climate crisis threatens to worsen air pollution problems significantly,” explains  Vijay Limaye , senior scientist in NRDC’s Science Office. Smog, for instance, is intensified by increased heat, forming when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation. In addition, climate change increases the production of allergenic air pollutants, including mold (thanks to damp conditions caused by extreme weather and increased flooding) and pollen (due to a longer pollen season). “Climate change–fueled droughts and dry conditions are also setting the stage for dangerous wildfires,” adds Limaye. “ Wildfire smoke can linger for days and pollute the air with particulate matter hundreds of miles downwind.”

The effects of air pollution on the human body vary, depending on the type of pollutant, the length and level of exposure, and other factors, including a person’s individual health risks and the cumulative impacts of multiple pollutants or stressors.

Smog and soot

These are the two most prevalent types of air pollution. Smog (sometimes referred to as ground-level ozone) occurs when emissions from combusting fossil fuels react with sunlight. Soot—a type of  particulate matter —is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens that are carried in the air. The sources of smog and soot are similar. “Both come from cars and trucks, factories, power plants, incinerators, engines, generally anything that combusts fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline, or natural gas,” Walke says.

Smog can irritate the eyes and throat and also damage the lungs, especially those of children, senior citizens, and people who work or exercise outdoors. It’s even worse for people who have asthma or allergies; these extra pollutants can intensify their symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. The tiniest airborne particles in soot are especially dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death. In  2020, a report from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that COVID-19 mortality rates were higher in areas with more particulate matter pollution than in areas with even slightly less, showing a correlation between the virus’s deadliness and long-term exposure to air pollution. 

These findings also illuminate an important  environmental justice issue . Because highways and polluting facilities have historically been sited in or next to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, the negative effects of this pollution have been  disproportionately experienced by the people who live in these communities.

Hazardous air pollutants

A number of air pollutants pose severe health risks and can sometimes be fatal, even in small amounts. Almost 200 of them are regulated by law; some of the most common are mercury,  lead , dioxins, and benzene. “These are also most often emitted during gas or coal combustion, incineration, or—in the case of benzene—found in gasoline,” Walke says. Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in small amounts in the air, is another carcinogen that can affect the liver in the short term and harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive functions.  Mercury  attacks the central nervous system. In large amounts, lead can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even minimal exposure can affect children’s IQ and ability to learn.

Another category of toxic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are by-products of traffic exhaust and wildfire smoke. In large amounts, they have been linked to eye and lung irritation, blood and liver issues, and even cancer.  In one study , the children of mothers exposed to PAHs during pregnancy showed slower brain-processing speeds and more pronounced symptoms of ADHD.

Greenhouse gases

While these climate pollutants don’t have the direct or immediate impacts on the human body associated with other air pollutants, like smog or hazardous chemicals, they are still harmful to our health. By trapping the earth’s heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases lead to warmer temperatures, which in turn lead to the hallmarks of climate change: rising sea levels, more extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and the increased transmission of infectious diseases. In 2021, carbon dioxide accounted for roughly 79 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane made up more than 11 percent. “Carbon dioxide comes from combusting fossil fuels, and methane comes from natural and industrial sources, including large amounts that are released during oil and gas drilling,” Walke says. “We emit far larger amounts of carbon dioxide, but methane is significantly more potent, so it’s also very destructive.” 

Another class of greenhouse gases,  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) , are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in their ability to trap heat. In October 2016, more than 140 countries signed the Kigali Agreement to reduce the use of these chemicals—which are found in air conditioners and refrigerators—and develop greener alternatives over time. (The United States officially signed onto the  Kigali Agreement in 2022.)

Pollen and mold

Mold and allergens from trees, weeds, and grass are also carried in the air, are exacerbated by climate change, and can be hazardous to health. Though they aren’t regulated, they can be considered a form of air pollution. “When homes, schools, or businesses get water damage, mold can grow and produce allergenic airborne pollutants,” says Kim Knowlton, professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University and a former NRDC scientist. “ Mold exposure can precipitate asthma attacks  or an allergic response, and some molds can even produce toxins that would be dangerous for anyone to inhale.”

Pollen allergies are worsening  because of climate change . “Lab and field studies are showing that pollen-producing plants—especially ragweed—grow larger and produce more pollen when you increase the amount of carbon dioxide that they grow in,” Knowlton says. “Climate change also extends the pollen production season, and some studies are beginning to suggest that ragweed pollen itself might be becoming a more potent allergen.” If so, more people will suffer runny noses, fevers, itchy eyes, and other symptoms. “And for people with allergies and asthma, pollen peaks can precipitate asthma attacks, which are far more serious and can be life-threatening.”

the cause of air pollution essay

More than one in three U.S. residents—120 million people—live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the  2023  State of the Air  report by the American Lung Association (ALA). Since the annual report was first published, in 2000, its findings have shown how the Clean Air Act has been able to reduce harmful emissions from transportation, power plants, and manufacturing.

Recent findings, however, reflect how climate change–fueled wildfires and extreme heat are adding to the challenges of protecting public health. The latest report—which focuses on ozone, year-round particle pollution, and short-term particle pollution—also finds that people of color are 61 percent more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade in at least one of those categories, and three times more likely to live in a county that fails in all three.

In rankings for each of the three pollution categories covered by the ALA report, California cities occupy the top three slots (i.e., were highest in pollution), despite progress that the Golden State has made in reducing air pollution emissions in the past half century. At the other end of the spectrum, these cities consistently rank among the country’s best for air quality: Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina. 

No one wants to live next door to an incinerator, oil refinery, port, toxic waste dump, or other polluting site. Yet millions of people around the world do, and this puts them at a much higher risk for respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological damage, cancer, and death. In the United States, people of color are 1.5 times more likely than whites to live in areas with poor air quality, according to the ALA.

Historically, racist zoning policies and discriminatory lending practices known as  redlining  have combined to keep polluting industries and car-choked highways away from white neighborhoods and have turned communities of color—especially low-income and working-class communities of color—into sacrifice zones, where residents are forced to breathe dirty air and suffer the many health problems associated with it. In addition to the increased health risks that come from living in such places, the polluted air can economically harm residents in the form of missed workdays and higher medical costs.

Environmental racism isn't limited to cities and industrial areas. Outdoor laborers, including the estimated three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States, are among the most vulnerable to air pollution—and they’re also among the least equipped, politically, to pressure employers and lawmakers to affirm their right to breathe clean air.

Recently,  cumulative impact mapping , which uses data on environmental conditions and demographics, has been able to show how some communities are overburdened with layers of issues, like high levels of poverty, unemployment, and pollution. Tools like the  Environmental Justice Screening Method  and the EPA’s  EJScreen  provide evidence of what many environmental justice communities have been explaining for decades: that we need land use and public health reforms to ensure that vulnerable areas are not overburdened and that the people who need resources the most are receiving them.

In the United States, the  Clean Air Act  has been a crucial tool for reducing air pollution since its passage in 1970, although fossil fuel interests aided by industry-friendly lawmakers have frequently attempted to  weaken its many protections. Ensuring that this bedrock environmental law remains intact and properly enforced will always be key to maintaining and improving our air quality.

But the best, most effective way to control air pollution is to speed up our transition to cleaner fuels and industrial processes. By switching over to renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar power), maximizing fuel efficiency in our vehicles, and replacing more and more of our gasoline-powered cars and trucks with electric versions, we'll be limiting air pollution at its source while also curbing the global warming that heightens so many of its worst health impacts.

And what about the economic costs of controlling air pollution? According to a report on the Clean Air Act commissioned by NRDC, the annual  benefits of cleaner air  are up to 32 times greater than the cost of clean air regulations. Those benefits include up to 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory illnesses, and net economic benefits of up to $3.8 trillion for the U.S. economy every year.

“The less gasoline we burn, the better we’re doing to reduce air pollution and the harmful effects of climate change,” Walke explains. “Make good choices about transportation. When you can, ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation. For driving, choose a car that gets better miles per gallon of gas or  buy an electric car .” You can also investigate your power provider options—you may be able to request that your electricity be supplied by wind or solar. Buying your food locally cuts down on the fossil fuels burned in trucking or flying food in from across the world. And most important: “Support leaders who push for clean air and water and responsible steps on climate change,” Walke says.

  • “When you see in the news or hear on the weather report that pollution levels are high, it may be useful to limit the time when children go outside or you go for a jog,” Walke says. Generally, ozone levels tend to be lower in the morning.
  • If you exercise outside, stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Then shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
  • The air may look clear, but that doesn’t mean it’s pollution free. Utilize tools like the EPA’s air pollution monitor,  AirNow , to get the latest conditions. If the air quality is bad, stay inside with the windows closed.
  • If you live or work in an area that’s prone to wildfires,  stay away from the harmful smoke  as much as you’re able. Consider keeping a small stock of masks to wear when conditions are poor. The most ideal masks for smoke particles will be labelled “NIOSH” (which stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and have either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.
  • If you’re using an air conditioner while outdoor pollution conditions are bad, use the recirculating setting to limit the amount of polluted air that gets inside. 

This story was originally published on November 1, 2016, and has been updated with new information and links.

This NRDC.org story is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the story was originally published by NRDC.org and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as grammar); you can’t resell the story in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select stories individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our stories.

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4 Causes and Effects of Air Pollution

4 Causes and Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air, which can be harmful and impose significant health risks to the population, including increased chances of coronary and respiratory diseases, as well as preliminary deaths. Made up of chemicals and pollutant particles, air pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems of our lifetime . Read on to learn about the major causes and effects of air pollution. 

Sources of Air Pollution

1. burning fossil fuels.

The biggest contributors of air pollution are from industry sources and power plants to generate power, as well as fossil fuel motor vehicles. The continuous burning of fossil fuels releases air pollutants, emissions and chemicals into the air and atmosphere. 

In 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that about 68 million tons of air pollution were emitted into the atmosphere in the US, contributing to the “formation of ozone and particles, the deposition of acids, and visibility impairment.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed limits. Developing and low-income countries experienced the greatest impacts from outdoor air pollution, particularly in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions. 

Climate change has an interrelated relationship with the environment and air pollution. As more air pollutants and greenhouse gases are released, this alters the energy balance between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface , which leads to global warming. The global temperature increase in turns raises the production of allergenic air pollutants such as mold and extends pollen seasons. 

2. Ozone and Smog

Ozone is a gas that when it forms air pollution and reaches too close to the ground, it significantly reduces visibility. We call this smog. This form of air pollution occurs when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides released from car exhausts and coal power plants. The ozone typically forms a protective layer in the atmosphere to protect the population from ultraviolet radiation (UV), but as it transforms into smog, it is harmful to human health and poses higher risks of respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung cancer. 

3. Weather Conditions

Air pollution and poor air quality can be attributed to changing weather conditions. For example, dust storms in China would carry clouds of industrial pollutants and particulate pollution across the Gobi desert into neighbouring countries such as Korea and Japan during spring season. Likewise during periods of high air pressure, air becomes stagnant and pollutants are more concentrated over certain areas. 

4. Heatwaves and Wildfires

Heatwaves not only lead to an increase of temperature, but are some of the causes and effects of air pollution. Hotter, stagnant air during a heat wave increases the concentration of particle pollutants. Extreme heat wave events also have higher risks of large-scale wildfires, which in turn, releases more carbon emissions, smog and pollutants into the air. 

You might also like: 15 Most Polluted Cities in the World

Effects of Air Pollution 

Air pollution contributes to the death of 5 million every year and about 6% of the global population, according to Our World in Data . The lethal combination of outdoor air pollution and toxic emissions from burning fossil fuel has been one of the leading causes of chronic and often terminal health issues including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and lower respiratory infections. 

The WHO estimates that nine out of 10 people breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants. In 2017, close to 15% of population deaths in low income countries like South and East Asia are attributed to air pollution, while the higher income countries experience only about 2%. 

The drastic difference in mortality numbers can be linked to legislations such as the Clean Air Act implemented by high-income countries like the US. Such legislations usually establishes national air quality standards and regulations on hazardous air pollutants. The UK in particular, saw a sharp 60% decline in air pollutant emissions between the 1970 and 2016. 

The environmental effects of air pollution are also vast, ranging from acid rain to contributing to birth defects, reproductive failure, and diseases in wildlife animals. Agriculture is also a victim of air pollution as increased pollutants can affect crop and forest yields, reduce growth  and increased plant susceptibility to disease from increased UV radiation caused by ozone depletion.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution has once again returned to the spotlight in relation to its role in transmitting virus molecules. Preliminary studies have identified a positive correlation between COVID-19-related mortalities and air pollution. China, being one of the most polluted countries in the world, can potentially link its high death toll during the pandemic to its poor air quality. Although, more research needs to be conducted to make any substantive correlation.

You might also like: History of Air Pollution: Have We Reached the Point of No Return?

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Essay on Air Pollution for Students and Children

500+ words essay on air pollution.

Essay on Air Pollution – Earlier the air we breathe in use to be pure and fresh. But, due to increasing industrialization and concentration of poisonous gases in the environment the air is getting more and more toxic day by day. Also, these gases are the cause of many respiratory and other diseases . Moreover, the rapidly increasing human activities like the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation is the major cause of air pollution.

Essay on Air Pollution

How Air Gets Polluted?

The fossil fuel , firewood, and other things that we burn produce oxides of carbons which got released into the atmosphere. Earlier there happens to be a large number of trees which can easily filter the air we breathe in. But with the increase in demand for land, the people started cutting down of trees which caused deforestation. That ultimately reduced the filtering capacity of the tree.

Moreover, during the last few decades, the numbers of fossil fuel burning vehicle increased rapidly which increased the number of pollutants in the air .

Causes Of Air Pollution

Its causes include burning of fossil fuel and firewood, smoke released from factories , volcanic eruptions, forest fires, bombardment, asteroids, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons), carbon oxides and many more.

Besides, there are some other air pollutants like industrial waste, agricultural waste, power plants, thermal nuclear plants, etc.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is also the cause of air pollution because air pollution produces the gases that greenhouse involves. Besides, it increases the temperature of earth surface so much that the polar caps are melting and most of the UV rays are easily penetrating the surface of the earth.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Effects Of Air Pollution On Health

the cause of air pollution essay

Moreover, it increases the rate of aging of lungs, decreases lungs function, damage cells in the respiratory system.

Ways To Reduce Air Pollution

Although the level of air pollution has reached a critical point. But, there are still ways by which we can reduce the number of air pollutants from the air.

Reforestation- The quality of air can be improved by planting more and more trees as they clean and filter the air.

Policy for industries- Strict policy for industries related to the filter of gases should be introduced in the countries. So, we can minimize the toxins released from factories.

Use of eco-friendly fuel-  We have to adopt the usage of Eco-friendly fuels such as LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), bio-gas, and other eco-friendly fuels. So, we can reduce the amount of harmful toxic gases.

To sum it up, we can say that the air we breathe is getting more and more polluted day by day. The biggest contribution to the increase in air pollution is of fossil fuels which produce nitric and sulphuric oxides. But, humans have taken this problem seriously and are devotedly working to eradicate the problem that they have created.

Above all, many initiatives like plant trees, use of eco-friendly fuel are promoted worldwide.

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Essay on Air Pollution

Environmental changes are caused by the natural or artificial content of harmful pollutants and can cause instability, disturbance, or adverse effects on the ecosystem. Earth and its environment pose a more serious threat due to the increasing pollution of air, water, and soil. Environmental damage is caused by improper resource management or careless human activities. Therefore, any activity that violates the original nature of the environment and leads to degradation is called pollution. We need to understand the origin of these pollutants and find ways to control pollution. This can also be done by raising awareness of the effects of pollutants.

Air pollution is any physical, chemical, or biological change in the air. A certain percentage of the gas is present in the atmosphere. Increasing or decreasing the composition of these gasses is detrimental to survival. This imbalance in gas composition causes an increase in global temperature which is called global warming.

Introduction to air pollution 

The Earth and its environment are facing a serious threat by the increasing pollution of the air, water, and soil—the vital life support systems of the Earth. The damage to the environment is caused by improper management of resources or by careless human activity. Hence any activity that violates the original character of nature and leads to its degradation is called pollution. We need to understand the sources of these pollutants and find ways to control pollution. This can be also done by making people aware of the effects of pollutants. 

Air with 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and 1% of all other gasses support life on Earth. Various processes take place to sustain the regular percentage of gasses and their composition in general. 

Atmospheric pollution can have natural sources, for example, volcanic eruptions. The gaseous by-products of man-made processes such as energy production, waste incineration, transport, deforestation and agriculture, are the major air pollutants.

Although air is made up of mostly Oxygen and Nitrogen, mankind, through pollution, has increased the levels of many trace gasses, and in some cases, released completely new gasses to the atmosphere. 

Air pollution can result in poor air quality, both in cities and in the countryside. Some air pollutants make people sick, causing breathing problems and increasing the likelihood of cancer. 

Some air pollutants are harmful to plants, animals, and the ecosystems in which they live. Statues, monuments, and buildings are being corroded by the air pollutants in the form of acid rain. It also damages crops and forests, and makes lakes and streams unsuitable for fish and other plant and animal life. 

Air pollution created by man-made resources is also changing the Earth’s atmosphere. It is causing the depletion of the ozone layer and letting in more harmful radiation from the Sun. The greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere prevents heat from escaping back into space and leads to a rise in global average temperatures. Global warming affects the average sea-level and increases the spread of tropical diseases.

Air pollution occurs when large amounts of gas and tiny particles are released into the air and the ecological balance is disturbed. Each year millions of tons of gasses and particulate matter are emitted into the air. 

Primary air pollutants are pollutants, which are directly released into the air. They are called SPM, i.e., Suspended Particulate Matter. For example, smoke, dust, ash, sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and radioactive compounds, etc.

Secondary Pollutants are pollutants, which are formed due to chemical interactions between the atmospheric components and primary pollutants. For example, Smog (i.e. Smoke and fog), ozone, etc.

Major gaseous air pollutants include Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide, etc.

Natural sources are volcanic eruptions, forest fires, dust storms, etc. 

Man-made sources include gasses released from the automobiles, industries, burning of garbage and bricks kilns, etc.

Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health

Air pollution has adverse effects on human health. 

Breathing polluted air puts you at higher risk of asthma.

When exposed to ground ozone for 6 to 7 hours, people suffer from respiratory inflammation.

Damages the immune system, endocrine, and reproductive systems.

A high level of air pollution has been associated with higher incidents of heart problems.

The toxic chemicals released into the air are affecting the flora and fauna immensely.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Air Pollution

We can prevent pollution by utilizing raw materials, water energy, and other resources more efficiently. When less harmful substances are substituted for hazardous ones, and when toxic substances are eliminated from the production process, human health can be protected and economic wellbeing can be strengthened. 

There are several measures that can be adopted by people to reduce pollution and to save the environment.


Promotion of public transport.

No smoking zone.

Restricted use of fossil fuels.

Saving energy.

Encouraging organic farming.

The government has put restrictions on the amount of fossil fuels that can be used as well as restrictions on how much carbon dioxide and other pollutants can be emitted. Although the government is attempting to save our environment from these harmful gasses, it is not sufficient. We as a society need to keep the environment clean by controlling the pollution of air.


FAQs on Air Pollution Essay

1. State the Causes of Air Pollution ?

The following are the causes of air pollution.

Vehicular pollution consisting of Carbon Monoxide causes pollution.

Emission of Nitrogen oxide by a large number of supersonic transport airplanes causes deterioration of the Ozone layer and also causes serious damage to the flora and fauna.

The release of Chlorofluorocarbons into the Stratosphere causes depletion of Ozone, which is a serious concern to animals, microscopic, and aquatic organisms.

Burning garbage causes smoke, which pollutes the atmosphere. This smoke contains harmful gases such as Carbon dioxide and Nitrogen oxides.

In India, brick kilns are used for many purposes and coal is used to burn the bricks. They give out huge quantities of Carbon dioxide and particulate matter such as smoke, dust that are very harmful to people working there and the areas surrounding it. 

Many cleansing agents release poisonous gases such as Ammonia and Chlorine into the atmosphere. 

Radioactive elements emit harmful rays into the air.

Decomposed animals and plants emit Methane and Ammonia gas into the air.

2. What Does Global Warming Mean?

Global warming is the gradual rising average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere due to the concentration of methane in certain toxic gasses such as carbon dioxide. This has a major impact on the world climate. The world is warming. The land and the sea are now warmer than they were at the beginning and temperatures are still rising. This rise in temperature is, in short, global warming. This temperature rise is man-made. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere which capture solar heat and raise surface and air temperatures.

3. Name the Alternative Modes of Transport. In What Way Does it Help to Reduce Air Pollution?

Public transport could be an alternative mode of transport. Public transport like trains, buses and trams, can relieve traffic congestion and reduce air pollution from road transport. The use of public transport must be encouraged in order to develop a sustainable transport policy.

4. Mention other means of transportation! How can I help reduce air pollution?

Public transportation can be another mode of transportation. Public transport such as trains, buses and trams can reduce traffic congestion and reduce air pollution from road transport. The use of public transport and to develop sustainable transport policies should be encouraged. While one passenger vehicle has the convenience factor, other modes of transportation reduce travel costs, spend less time, reduce stress, improve health, and reduce energy consumption and parking. Other trips for work include walking/cycling, public transport, hybrid travel and transport.

5. What are the effects of pollution?

Excessive air pollution can increase the risk of heart attack, wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Air pollution can also cause heart problems, asthma, and other lung problems. Due to the emission of greenhouse gases, the composition of the air in the air is disturbed. This causes an increase in global temperature. The damaging ozone layer due to air pollution does not prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, which cause skin and eye problems in individuals. Air pollution has caused a number of respiratory and heart diseases among people. The incidence of lung cancer has increased in recent decades. Children living in contaminated areas are more likely to develop pneumonia and asthma. Many people die every year due to the direct or indirect effects of air pollution. When burning fossil fuels, harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are released into the air. Water droplets combine with these pollutants and become acidic and fall as acid rain, which harms human, animal and plant life.

6. What is the solution to air pollution?

Production of renewable fuels and clean energy. The basic solution to air pollution is to get away from fossil fuels and replace them with other energies such as solar, wind and geothermal. The government limits the amount of fossil fuel that can be used and how much carbon dioxide and other pollutants it can emit. While the government is trying to save our environment from this harmful gas, it is not enough. We as a society need to keep the environment clean by controlling air pollution. To more in detail about air pollution and its causes. To learn more about air pollution and its impact on the environment, visit the Vedantu website.


Air pollution.

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings.

Biology, Ecology, Earth Science, Geography

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Morgan Stanley

Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants. It also damages buildings. Pollutants in the air take many forms. They can be gases , solid particles, or liquid droplets. Sources of Air Pollution Pollution enters the Earth's atmosphere in many different ways. Most air pollution is created by people, taking the form of emissions from factories, cars, planes, or aerosol cans . Second-hand cigarette smoke is also considered air pollution. These man-made sources of pollution are called anthropogenic sources . Some types of air pollution, such as smoke from wildfires or ash from volcanoes , occur naturally. These are called natural sources . Air pollution is most common in large cities where emissions from many different sources are concentrated . Sometimes, mountains or tall buildings prevent air pollution from spreading out. This air pollution often appears as a cloud making the air murky. It is called smog . The word "smog" comes from combining the words "smoke" and " fog ." Large cities in poor and developing nations tend to have more air pollution than cities in developed nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , some of the worlds most polluted cities are Karachi, Pakistan; New Delhi, India; Beijing, China; Lima, Peru; and Cairo, Egypt. However, many developed nations also have air pollution problems. Los Angeles, California, is nicknamed Smog City. Indoor Air Pollution Air pollution is usually thought of as smoke from large factories or exhaust from vehicles. But there are many types of indoor air pollution as well. Heating a house by burning substances such as kerosene , wood, and coal can contaminate the air inside the house. Ash and smoke make breathing difficult, and they can stick to walls, food, and clothing. Naturally-occurring radon gas, a cancer -causing material, can also build up in homes. Radon is released through the surface of the Earth. Inexpensive systems installed by professionals can reduce radon levels. Some construction materials, including insulation , are also dangerous to people's health. In addition, ventilation , or air movement, in homes and rooms can lead to the spread of toxic mold . A single colony of mold may exist in a damp, cool place in a house, such as between walls. The mold's spores enter the air and spread throughout the house. People can become sick from breathing in the spores. Effects On Humans People experience a wide range of health effects from being exposed to air pollution. Effects can be broken down into short-term effects and long-term effects . Short-term effects, which are temporary , include illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis . They also include discomfort such as irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, or skin. Air pollution can also cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea . Bad smells made by factories, garbage , or sewer systems are considered air pollution, too. These odors are less serious but still unpleasant . Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or for an entire lifetime. They can even lead to a person's death. Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease , lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema . Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people's nerves , brain, kidneys , liver , and other organs. Some scientists suspect air pollutants cause birth defects . Nearly 2.5 million people die worldwide each year from the effects of outdoor or indoor air pollution. People react differently to different types of air pollution. Young children and older adults, whose immune systems tend to be weaker, are often more sensitive to pollution. Conditions such as asthma , heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution. The length of exposure and amount and type of pollutants are also factors. Effects On The Environment Like people, animals, and plants, entire ecosystems can suffer effects from air pollution. Haze , like smog, is a visible type of air pollution that obscures shapes and colors. Hazy air pollution can even muffle sounds. Air pollution particles eventually fall back to Earth. Air pollution can directly contaminate the surface of bodies of water and soil . This can kill crops or reduce their yield . It can kill young trees and other plants. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide particles in the air, can create acid rain when they mix with water and oxygen in the atmosphere. These air pollutants come mostly from coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles . When acid rain falls to Earth, it damages plants by changing soil composition ; degrades water quality in rivers, lakes and streams; damages crops; and can cause buildings and monuments to decay . Like humans, animals can suffer health effects from exposure to air pollution. Birth defects, diseases, and lower reproductive rates have all been attributed to air pollution. Global Warming Global warming is an environmental phenomenon caused by natural and anthropogenic air pollution. It refers to rising air and ocean temperatures around the world. This temperature rise is at least partially caused by an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat energy in the Earths atmosphere. (Usually, more of Earths heat escapes into space.) Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has had the biggest effect on global warming. Carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, gasoline , and natural gas ). Humans have come to rely on fossil fuels to power cars and planes, heat homes, and run factories. Doing these things pollutes the air with carbon dioxide. Other greenhouse gases emitted by natural and artificial sources also include methane , nitrous oxide , and fluorinated gases. Methane is a major emission from coal plants and agricultural processes. Nitrous oxide is a common emission from industrial factories, agriculture, and the burning of fossil fuels in cars. Fluorinated gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons , are emitted by industry. Fluorinated gases are often used instead of gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs have been outlawed in many places because they deplete the ozone layer . Worldwide, many countries have taken steps to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. The Kyoto Protocol , first adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, is an agreement between 183 countries that they will work to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The United States has not signed that treaty . Regulation In addition to the international Kyoto Protocol, most developed nations have adopted laws to regulate emissions and reduce air pollution. In the United States, debate is under way about a system called cap and trade to limit emissions. This system would cap, or place a limit, on the amount of pollution a company is allowed. Companies that exceeded their cap would have to pay. Companies that polluted less than their cap could trade or sell their remaining pollution allowance to other companies. Cap and trade would essentially pay companies to limit pollution. In 2006 the World Health Organization issued new Air Quality Guidelines. The WHOs guidelines are tougher than most individual countries existing guidelines. The WHO guidelines aim to reduce air pollution-related deaths by 15 percent a year. Reduction Anybody can take steps to reduce air pollution. Millions of people every day make simple changes in their lives to do this. Taking public transportation instead of driving a car, or riding a bike instead of traveling in carbon dioxide-emitting vehicles are a couple of ways to reduce air pollution. Avoiding aerosol cans, recycling yard trimmings instead of burning them, and not smoking cigarettes are others.

Downwinders The United States conducted tests of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site in southern Nevada in the 1950s. These tests sent invisible radioactive particles into the atmosphere. These air pollution particles traveled with wind currents, eventually falling to Earth, sometimes hundreds of miles away in states including Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Washington. These areas were considered to be "downwind" from the Nevada Test Site. Decades later, people living in those downwind areascalled "downwinders"began developing cancer at above-normal rates. In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. This law entitles some downwinders to payments of $50,000.

Greenhouse Gases There are five major greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

  • water vapor
  • carbon dioxide
  • nitrous oxide

London Smog What has come to be known as the London Smog of 1952, or the Great Smog of 1952, was a four-day incident that sickened 100,000 people and caused as many as 12,000 deaths. Very cold weather in December 1952 led residents of London, England, to burn more coal to keep warm. Smoke and other pollutants became trapped by a thick fog that settled over the city. The polluted fog became so thick that people could only see a few meters in front of them.

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the cause of air pollution essay

by Chris Woodford . Last updated: November 22, 2022.

Photo: Air pollution is obvious when it pours from a smokestack (chimney), but it's not always so easy to spot. This is an old photo of the kind of smoke that used to come from coal-fired power plants and, apart from soot (unburned carbon particles), its pollutants include sulfur dioxide and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Thanks to tougher pollution controls, modern power plants produce only a fraction as much pollution. Modern pollution made by traffic consists of gases like nitrogen dioxide and "particulates" (microscopic soot and dust fragments) that are largely invisible.

What is air pollution?

Air pollution is a gas (or a liquid or solid dispersed through ordinary air) released in a big enough quantity to harm the health of people or other animals, kill plants or stop them growing properly, damage or disrupt some other aspect of the environment (such as making buildings crumble), or cause some other kind of nuisance (reduced visibility, perhaps, or an unpleasant odor).

Natural air pollution

Photo: Forest fires are a completely natural cause of air pollution. We'll never be able to prevent them breaking out or stop the pollution they cause; our best hope is to manage forests, where we can, so fires don't spread. Ironically, that can mean deliberately burning areas of forest, as shown here, to create firebreaks. Forests are also deliberately burned to regenerate ecosystems. Photo by courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service .

Top-ten kinds of air pollution Photo: Flying molecules—if you could see air pollution close up, this is what it would look like. Image courtesy of US Department of Energy. Any gas could qualify as pollution if it reached a high enough concentration to do harm. Theoretically, that means there are dozens of different pollution gases. It's important to note that not all the things we think of as pollution are gases: some are aerosols (liquids or solids dispersed through gases). In practice, about ten different substances cause most concern: Sulfur dioxide : Coal, petroleum, and other fuels are often impure and contain sulfur as well as organic (carbon-based) compounds. When sulfur (spelled "sulphur" in some countries) burns with oxygen from the air, sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) is produced. Coal-fired power plants are the world's biggest source of sulfur-dioxide air pollution, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and health problems that include lung disease. [5] Large amounts of sulfur dioxide are also produced by ships, which use dirtier diesel fuel than cars and trucks. [6] Carbon monoxide : This highly dangerous gas forms when fuels have too little oxygen to burn completely. It spews out in car exhausts and it can also build up to dangerous levels inside your home if you have a poorly maintained gas boiler , stove, or fuel-burning appliance. (Always fit a carbon monoxide detector if you burn fuels indoors.) [7] Carbon dioxide : This gas is central to everyday life and isn't normally considered a pollutant: we all produce it when we breathe out and plants such as crops and trees need to "breathe" it in to grow. However, carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas released by engines and power plants. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, it's been building up in Earth's atmosphere and contributing to the problem of global warming and climate change . [8] Nitrogen oxides : Nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) and nitrogen oxide (NO) are pollutants produced as an indirect result of combustion, when nitrogen and oxygen from the air react together. Nitrogen oxide pollution comes from vehicle engines and power plants, and plays an important role in the formation of acid rain, ozone and smog. Nitrogen oxides are also "indirect greenhouse gases" (they contribute to global warming by producing ozone, which is a greenhouse gas). [9] Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) : These carbon-based (organic) chemicals evaporate easily at ordinary temperatures and pressures, so they readily become gases. That's precisely why they're used as solvents in many different household chemicals such as paints , waxes, and varnishes. Unfortunately, they're also a form of air pollution: they're believed to have long-term (chronic) effects on people's health and they play a role in the formation of ozone and smog. VOCs are also released by tobacco smoke and wildfires. [10] Particulates : There are many different kinds of particulates, from black soot in diesel exhaust to dust and organic matter from the desert. Airborne liquid droplets from farm pollution also count as particulates. Particulates of different sizes are often referred to by the letters PM followed by a number, so PM 10 means soot particles of less than 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter or 10µm in diameter, roughly 10 times thinner than a thick human hair). The smaller ("finer") the particulates, the deeper they travel into our lungs and the more dangerous they are. PM 2.5 particulates are much more dangerous (they're less than 2.5 millionths of a meter or about 40 times thinner than a typical hair). In cities, most particulates come from traffic fumes. [11] Ozone : Also called trioxygen, this is a type of oxygen gas whose molecules are made from three oxygen atoms joined together (so it has the chemical formula O 3 ), instead of just the two atoms in conventional oxygen (O 2 ). In the stratosphere (upper atmosphere), a band of ozone ("the ozone layer") protects us by screening out harmful ultraviolet radiation (high-energy blue light) beaming down from the Sun. At ground level, it's a toxic pollutant that can damage health. It forms when sunlight strikes a cocktail of other pollution and is a key ingredient of smog (see box below). [12] Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) : Once thought to be harmless, these gases were widely used in refrigerators and aerosol cans until it was discovered that they damaged Earth's ozone layer. We discuss this in more detail down below. [13] Unburned hydrocarbons : Petroleum and other fuels are made of organic compounds based on chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. When they burn properly, they're completely converted into harmless carbon dioxide and water ; when they burn incompletely, they can release carbon monoxide or float into the air in their unburned form, contributing to smog. Lead and heavy metals : Lead and other toxic "heavy metals" can be spread into the air either as toxic compounds or as aerosols (when solids or liquids are dispersed through gases and carried through the air by them) in such things as exhaust fumes and the fly ash (contaminated waste dust) from incinerator smokestacks. [14] What are the causes of air pollution?

Photo: Even in the age of electric cars, traffic remains a major cause of air pollution. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (NREL photo id#46361).

Photo: Brown smog lingers over Denver, Colorado. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (NREL photo id#56919).

Chart: Most of the world's major cities routinely exceed World Health Organization (WHO) air pollution guidelines, though progress is being made: you can see that the 2022 figures (green) show a marked improvement on the 2016 ones (orange) in almost every case. This chart compares annual mean PM 2.5 levels in 12 representative cities around the world with the recently revised (2021) WHO guideline value of 5μg per cubic meter (dotted line). PM 2.5 particulates are those smaller than 2.5 microns and believed to be most closely linked with adverse health effects. For more about this chart and the data sources used, see note [22] .

Photo: Smokestacks billowing pollution over Moscow, Russia in 1994. Factory pollution is much less of a problem than it used to be in the world's "richer" countries—partly because a lot of their industry has been exported to nations such as China, India, and Mexico. Photo by Roger Taylor courtesy of US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) .

What effects does air pollution have?

Photo: Air pollution can cause a variety of lung diseases and other respiratory problems. This chest X ray shows a lung disease called emphysema in the patient's left lung. A variety of things can cause it, including smoking and exposure to air pollution. Photo courtesy of National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Institutes of Health.

" In 2016, 91% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met." World Health Organization , 2018

Photo: For many years, the stonework on the Parthenon in Athens, Greece has been blackened by particulates from traffic pollution, but other sources of pollution, such as wood-burning stoves, are increasingly significant. Photo by Michael M. Reddy courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey .

How air pollution works on different scales

Indoor air pollution.

Photo: Air freshener—or air polluter?

Further reading

Acid rain—a closer look.

Photo: Acid rain can turn lakes so acidic that fish no longer survive. Picture courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Public Affairs. Why does that matter? Pure water is neither acidic nor alkaline but completely neutral (we say it has an acidity level or pH of 7.0). Ordinary rainwater is a little bit more acidic than this with about the same acidity as bananas (roughly pH 5.5), but if rain falls through sulfur dioxide pollution it can turn much more acidic (with a pH of 4.5 or lower, which is the same acidity as orange or lemon juice). When acid rain accumulates in lakes or rivers, it gradually turns the entire water more acidic. That's a real problem because fish thrive only in water that is neutral or slightly acidic (typically with a pH of 6.5–7.0). Once the acidity drops below about pH 6.0, fish soon start to die—and if the pH drops to about 4.0 or less, all the fish will be killed. Acid rain has caused major problems in lakes throughout North America and Europe. It also causes the death of forests, reduces the fertility of soil, and damages buildings by eating away stonework (the marble on the US Capitol in Washington, DC has been eroded by acid-rain, for example). One of the biggest difficulties in tackling acid rain is that it can happen over very long distances. In one notable case, sulfur dioxide air pollution produced by power plants in the UK was blamed for causing acid rain that fell on Scandinavian countries such as Norway, producing widespread damage to forests and the deaths of thousands of fish in acidified lakes. The British government refused to acknowledge the problem and that was partly why the UK became known as the "dirty man of Europe" in the 1980s and 1990s. [18] Acid rain was a particular problem in the last 30–40 years of the 20th century. Thanks to the decline in coal-fired power plants, and the sulfur dioxide they spewed out, it's less of a problem for western countries today. But it's still a big issue in places like India, where coal remains a major source of energy. Global air pollution It's hard to imagine doing anything so dramatic and serious that it would damage our entire, enormous planet—but, remarkable though it may seem, we all do things like this everyday, contributing to problems such as global warming and the damage to the ozone layer (two separate issues that are often confused). Global warming Every time you ride in a car, turn on the lights, switch on your TV , take a shower, microwave a meal, or use energy that's come from burning a fossil fuel such as oil, coal, or natural gas, you're almost certainly adding to the problem of global warming and climate change: unless it's been produced in some environmentally friendly way, the energy you're using has most likely released carbon dioxide gas into the air. While it's not an obvious pollutant, carbon dioxide has gradually built up in the atmosphere, along with other chemicals known as greenhouse gases . Together, these gases act a bit like a blanket surrounding our planet that is slowly making the mean global temperature rise, causing the climate (the long-term pattern of our weather) to change, and producing a variety of different effects on the natural world, including rising sea levels. Read more in our main article about global warming and climate change . Ozone holes

How can we solve the problem of air pollution?

Photo: Pollution solution: an electrostatic smoke precipitator helps to prevent air pollution from this smokestack at the McNeil biomass power plant in Burlington, VT. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

What can you do to help reduce air pollution?

Photo: Buying organic food reduces the use of sprayed pesticides and other chemicals, so it helps to reduce air (as well as water) pollution.

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Breathless by Chris Woodford paperback book cover rendered as dummy book.

  • Breathless: Why Air Pollution Matters—and How it Affects You by Chris Woodford. Icon, 2021. My new book explores the problem in much more depth than I've been able to go into here. You can also read a bonus chapter called Angels with dirty faces: How air pollution blackens our buildings and monuments .
  • The Invisible Killer: The Rising Global Threat of Air Pollution and How We Can Fight Back by Gary Fuller. Melville House, 2018.
  • Reducing Pollution and Waste by Jen Green. Raintree/Capstone, 2011. A 48-page introduction for ages 9–12. The emphasis here is on getting children to think about pollution: where it comes from, who makes it, and who should solve the problem.
  • Pollution Crisis by Russ Parker. Rosen, 2009. A 32-page guide for ages 8–10. It starts with a global survey of the problem; looks at air, water, and land pollution; then considers how we all need to be part of the solution.
  • Earth Matters by Lynn Dicks et al. Dorling Kindersley, 2008. This isn't specifically about pollution. Instead, it explores how a range of different environmental problems are testing life to the limit in the planet's major biomes (oceans, forests, and so on). I wrote the section of this book that covers the polar regions.
  • State of Global Air : One of the best sources of global air pollution data.
  • American Lung Association: State of the Air Report : A good source of data about the United States.
  • European Environment Agency: Air quality in Europe : A definitive overview of the situation in the European countries.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database : A spreadsheet of pollution data for most major cities in the world (a little out of date, but a new version is expected soon).
  • Our World in Data : Accessible guides to global data from Oxford University.
  • The New York Times Topics: Air Pollution
  • The Guardian: Pollution
  • Wired: Pollution
  • 'Invisible killer': fossil fuels caused 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, research finds by Oliver Milman. The Guardian, February 9, 2021. Pollution of various kinds causes something like one in five of all deaths.
  • Millions of masks distributed to students in 'gas chamber' Delhi : BBC News, 1 November 2019.
  • 90% of world's children are breathing toxic air, WHO study finds by Matthew Taylor. The Guardian, October 29, 2018. The air pollution affecting billions of children could continue to harm their health throughout their lives.
  • Pollution May Dim Thinking Skills, Study in China Suggests by Mike Ives. The New York Times, August 29, 2018. Long-term exposure to air pollution seems to cause a decline in cognitive skills.
  • Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens 'survival of human societies' by Damian Carrington. The Guardian, October 19, 2017. Air, water, and land pollution kill millions, cost trillions, and threaten the very survival of humankind, a new study reveals.
  • India's Air Pollution Rivals China's as World's Deadliest by Geeta Anand. The New York Times, February 14, 2017. High levels of pollution could be killing 1.1 million Indians each year.
  • More Than 9 in 10 People Breathe Bad Air, WHO Study Says by Mike Ives. The New York Times, September 27, 2016. New WHO figures suggest the vast majority of us are compromising our health by breathing bad air.
  • Study Links 6.5 Million Deaths Each Year to Air Pollution by Stanley Reed. The New York Times, June 26, 2016. Air pollution deaths are far greater than previously supposed according to a new study by the International Energy Agency.
  • UK air pollution 'linked to 40,000 early deaths a year' by Michelle Roberts, BBC News, February 23, 2016. Diesel engines, cigarette smoke, and even air fresheners are among the causes of premature death from air pollution.
  • This Wearable Detects Pollution to Build Air Quality Maps in Real Time by Davey Alba. Wired, November 19, 2014. A wearable pollution gadget lets people track their exposure to air pollution through a smartphone app.
  • Air pollution and public health: emerging hazards and improved understanding of risk by Frank J. Kelly and Julia C. Fussell, Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 2015
  • Health effects of fine particulate air pollution: lines that connect by C.A. Pope and D.W. Dockery. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 2006
  • Ambient and household air pollution: complex triggers of disease by Stephen A. Farmer et al, Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, 2014

Text copyright © Chris Woodford 2010, 2022. All rights reserved. Full copyright notice and terms of use .

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Home Essay Samples Environment Air Pollution

The Causes and Effects of Air Pollution: A Comprehensive Analysis

Table of contents, causes of air pollution, effects of air pollution, addressing air pollution, 1. industrial emissions, 2. vehicle emissions, 3. deforestation and land use, 1. health impacts, 2. environmental degradation, 3. climate change, 4. economic costs, 1. regulatory measures, 2. transition to clean energy, 3. reforestation and conservation.

  • Brauer, M., Freedman, G., & Frostad, J. (2019). Ambient air pollution exposure estimation for the Global Burden of Disease 2013. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(1), 79-88.
  • Chen, L., Yang, C., & Huang, C. (2020). Air pollution and stroke: Association and effect modifiers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(6), 1959.
  • Khaniabadi, Y. O., Daryanoosh, S. M., Hopke, P. K., Ferrante, M., & De Marco, A. (2017). Exposure to PM10, NO2, and O3 and impacts on human health. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(3), 2781-2789.
  • Pope III, C. A., & Dockery, D. W. (2006). Health effects of fine particulate air pollution: Lines that connect. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 56(6), 709-742.
  • World Health Organization. (2018). Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ambient-(outdoor)-air-quality-and-health

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What Causes Air Pollution?

the cause of air pollution essay

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Air pollution happens when solid and liquid particles—called aerosols —and certain gases end up in our air. These particles and gases can be bad for the planet and for our health, so keeping track of them is important.

Where do aerosols come from?

Any particle that gets picked up into the air or is formed from chemical reactions in the air can be an aerosol. Many aerosols enter the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels—such as coal and petroleum—and wood. These particles can come from many sources, including car exhaust, factories and even wildfires. Some of the particles and gases come directly from these sources, but others form through chemical reactions in the air.

Aerosols can come from other places, too, such as ash from an erupting volcano. Dust, pollen from plants and mold spores are also examples of aerosols.

This animation uses NASA data to show how ash from a volcano in Chile travels around the world in our atmosphere. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

What else causes air pollution?

Certain gases in the atmosphere can cause air pollution. For example, in cities, a gas called ozone is a major cause of air pollution. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas that can be both good and bad for our environment. It all depends where it is in Earth’s atmosphere .

the cause of air pollution essay

Ozone high up in our atmosphere is a good thing. It helps block harmful energy from the Sun, called radiation . But, when ozone is closer to the ground, it can be really bad for our health. Ground level ozone is created when sunlight reacts with certain chemicals that come from sources of burning fossil fuels, such as factories or car exhaust.

When particles in the air combine with ozone, they create smog. Smog is a type of air pollution that looks like smoky fog and makes it difficult to see.

the cause of air pollution essay

Smog is a type of air pollution in cities that makes it difficult to see outside. Here are images of Beijing on a clear day after a rain (left) and on a smoggy day (right). Credit: Bobak via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5

How does air pollution affect Earth’s climate?

Aerosols can impact how the Sun’s light hits Earth. For example, some aerosols reflect sunlight while others absorb sunlight. It depends on the color of the particle.

the cause of air pollution essay

Dark surfaces—whether it’s a black t-shirt or a dark particle in the atmosphere—absorb the Sun's heat. Lighter-colored surfaces reflect heat from the Sun.

A white t-shirt reflects the Sun on a hot day, making you feel cooler. In the same way, light-colored particles that reflect the Sun’s light and heat away from Earth can make the global temperature cooler. Dark-colored particles that absorb the Sun’s light can make the global temperature warmer.

How does air pollution affect our health?

Breathing in polluted air can be very bad for our health. Long-term exposure to air pollution has been associated with diseases of the heart and lungs, cancers and other health problems. That’s why it’s important for us to monitor air pollution.

How is NASA monitoring air pollution?

NASA uses satellites orbiting Earth to keep an eye on air pollution. In fact, air quality forecasters use information about aerosols from NASA’s Aqua , Terra and Suomi-NPP satellites.

NASA also is developing a new instrument called the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols, or MAIA , to fly aboard a future spacecraft mission. MAIA will help scientists understand the size, makeup and quantity of aerosols in our air. Eventually, scientists will be able to compare this information with health records. This can help us better understand the relationship between aerosol pollution and human health.

Related NASA Missions

the cause of air pollution essay

Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health

Common health problems associated with air pollution.

Indoor and outdoor air pollution causes several common health problems which according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (2009) are grouped according to the major pollutants. To begin with, carbon monoxide compromises the heart activities hence lethargy and fatigue. It also causes nausea, dizziness, and headaches and in large amounts may even lead to death. Nitrogen dioxide causes nasal and throat irritation and increases the risk of developing respiratory infections. Ozone causes irritation of the respiratory system leading to coughs, chest and throat pains. Particulates cause damage to respiratory tract tissues especially lung tissue leading to lung diseases. Sulfur dioxide is known to make worse existing lung diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Lead on the other hand causes damage to the brain and the nervous system with children being most susceptible (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 2009; California Air Resources Board 2007a). From these, it is evident that air pollution has adverse common effects on the respiratory system and to some extent other body parts.

Vulnerability of children to pollutants

The most common health problems in children associated with air pollution occurs in the respiratory system. This is due to the fact that children’s respiratory system is not fully developed therefore immature. This means that the structures are weak and are prone to damage at the slightest exposure to air pollutants. The children’s health study by the California air resources board reported that children are more vulnerable to effects of air pollutants as they are exposed to more air pollution than adults as they have higher respiratory rates and are normally outdoors (California Air Resources Board 2007b). Other factors may include the underdeveloped immune system in children that is not able to effectively and efficiently fight off the effects of air pollution on the body and large surface area to volume ratio that exposes a large surface area to air pollution.

Needs assessment process and the role of Health educator

Community needs assessment is a systematic process in which the health educator, the nurse and other health care professionals together with the members of the community determine the health problems & needs of the community & develop plans of action and implement those plans. In this case the needs assessment process will be in relation to air pollution. The first step is exploration which involves mapping out the community with the purpose of obtaining baseline information that help plan for the rest of the assessment process. The second is step is planning for assessment exercise where by the necessary resources are put into place and objective designed, in this case it will be; to assess health impacts of air pollution and how to combat these effects. The third step is recruitment and training of assistants, fourth step is pretesting and reworking of the tool as it helps to detect faults and shortcomings after which corrections are made. The fifth step is execution of the assessment which basically involves actual going to the community and engaging the community into discussions and giving them the assessment tools so that they can feel it with relevant information. The sixth step is critical analysis of the findings and recommendations. The collected data is analyzed and then findings and recommendations are drawn. One of fundamental recommendation that will be made is to initiate Health Education and Promotion to combat the effects of air pollution. Health education/promotion empowers an individual with the much needed and relevant information that can be of great assistance in management of his/her health and other related issues. The health education and promotion will involve sources of air pollutants, their effects on human health, management and prevention measures. The health educator, the nurse and other stakeholders can carry out this activity with the help of the local health professionals working within the community and even train some community members who will be educating their colleagues; this creates a sense of belonging and ownership among the community members in that they will participate in the health education/promotion activities as their own. This empowers the community and the information stays with them even years after the time of carrying out the assessment. The final step is evaluation and just as in nursing process, evaluations helps in checking if the assessment was a success and whether there has been any positive impact and if interventions put in place had desired results. Evaluation also helps in knowing if the set goals and objectives were met, determining success or failure of the problem and to put corrective measure into place (Zerwekh, 112; Holloway, & Wheeler, 76; Grol 361). The health educator works hand in hand with the community health nurse and other health professionals in the above process where by he/she acts the overall supervisor.

Air pollution has adverse effects on health and majorly affects the respiratory system with children being most vulnerable due to their under developed respiratory system. Health educators are charged with the overall responsibility of overseeing planning, implementation and evaluation of education programs in the community. They also function as consultants to the other health care professionals involved in health education and promotion.

  • “Air Pollutants and their health effects”. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 2009. Web.
  • “ Health Effects Research .” California Air Resources Board. 2007a. Web.
  • The Children’s Health Study . California Air Resources Board. 2007b. Web.
  • Grol R. “National standard setting for quality of care in general practice: attitudes of general practitioners and response to a set of standards.” Br J Gen Pract 40 (2000): 361–4.
  • Holloway, I., & Wheeler, S. Qualitative Research in Nursing. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
  • Zerwekh, J. Nursing Today: Transition and Trends. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company, 2003.
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2024, January 16). Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health. https://ivypanda.com/essays/air-pollution-and-its-impact-on-human-health/

"Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health." IvyPanda , 16 Jan. 2024, ivypanda.com/essays/air-pollution-and-its-impact-on-human-health/.

IvyPanda . (2024) 'Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health'. 16 January.

IvyPanda . 2024. "Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health." January 16, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/air-pollution-and-its-impact-on-human-health/.

1. IvyPanda . "Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health." January 16, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/air-pollution-and-its-impact-on-human-health/.


IvyPanda . "Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health." January 16, 2024. https://ivypanda.com/essays/air-pollution-and-its-impact-on-human-health/.

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Essay on Air Pollution for Students: Check Samples of 100 Words to 250 Words

the cause of air pollution essay

  • Updated on  
  • Mar 30, 2024

Essay on Air Pollution for Students

Essay on Air Pollution : Invisible but insidious, air pollution silently infiltrates our lives, impacting health, the environment, and future generations. Through this blog, let’s explore its roots, repercussions, and remedies, which are essential in our quest for cleaner, healthier skies. Essay writing here becomes more crucial, to raise awareness about air pollution’s dire consequences and drive action for cleaner air.

Table of Contents

  • 1 10-Line Essay on Air Pollution
  • 2 What are the Causes of Air Pollution?
  • 3 What are the effects of Air Pollution?
  • 4 Essay on Air Pollution: How to Tackle Air Pollution?
  • 5 Essay on Air Pollution Sample (100 Words)
  • 6 Essay on Air Pollution Sample (250 Words)

Must Read: Essay On Environment

10-Line Essay on Air Pollution

Below mentioned is a 10-lined essay on air pollution:

  • Air pollution is caused by harmful substances known as pollutants.
  • The pollutant come from various sources, like vehicle gasses, forest fires, and other human activities.
  • The two of the biggest sources of air pollution are burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
  • Air pollution is harmful to humans because it can cause skin and respiratory diseases.
  • Air pollution is equally harmful to plants and animals.
  • Air pollution can also damage non-living things, such as ancient monuments constructed from marbles and limestone.
  • Air pollution leads to ozone layer depletion, climate change and global warming.
  • Air pollution can damage ecosystems in forests.
  • We must take effective steps to reduce air pollution.
  • We can reduce air pollution by planting more trees and burning less fossil fuels.

What are the Causes of Air Pollution?

Air pollution is caused by various factors, including:

  • Industrial Emissions: Factories and manufacturing processes release pollutants like chemicals and particulate matter into the air.
  • Vehicle Emissions: Combustion engines in cars, trucks, and aeroplanes emit exhaust gases, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.
  • Burning Fossil Fuels: The use of coal, oil, and natural gas for energy generation and heating releases pollutants and greenhouse gases.
  • Agricultural Activities: Pesticides and fertilizers release chemicals, while livestock emit methane.
  • Deforestation: Cutting down trees reduces the planet’s capacity to absorb pollutants.
  • Waste Disposal: Improper disposal of waste leads to the release of harmful substances into the air.
  • Natural Sources: Volcanic eruptions, dust storms, and wildfires can also contribute to air pollution.

What are the effects of Air Pollution?

Air pollution poses severe health and environmental risks. Short-term exposure can lead to respiratory issues, eye irritation, and exacerbation of pre-existing conditions. Long-term exposure is linked to chronic diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disorders. 

Additionally, air pollution harms ecosystems, causing acid rain, damaging vegetation, and polluting water bodies. It also contributes to climate change by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Addressing air pollution is crucial to safeguard human health and protecting the planet’s ecosystems and climate.

Essay on Air Pollution: How to Tackle Air Pollution?

Addressing air pollution is paramount for a healthier planet. By curbing emissions, adopting clean technologies, and fostering sustainable practices, we can safeguard our environment and public health. Here are some key points on how to tackle air pollution:

  • Reduce Vehicle Emissions:
  • Improve Industrial Practices
  • Increase Green Spaces
  • Monitor and Regulate
  • Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
  • Promote Renewable Energy
  • Encourage Sustainable Practices
  • Raise Public Awareness:
  • Reduce Open Burning:
  • International Cooperation:

Tackling air pollution requires a multi-faceted approach involving government policies, community engagement, and individual responsibility.

Must Read: Essay On Global Warming

Essay on Air Pollution Sample (100 Words)

Air pollution is a pressing environmental issue with far-reaching consequences. It occurs when harmful substances, such as particulate matter and toxic gases, contaminate the atmosphere. These pollutants result from various sources, including industrial emissions, vehicular exhaust, and agricultural activities.

The consequences of air pollution are severe, impacting both human health and the environment. Prolonged exposure to polluted air can lead to respiratory diseases, cardiovascular issues, and even premature death. Additionally, air pollution harms ecosystems, leading to reduced crop yields and biodiversity loss.

Mitigating air pollution requires collective efforts, including stricter emission regulations, cleaner energy sources, and promoting public awareness. By addressing this issue, we can safeguard our health and preserve the environment for future generations.

Essay on Air Pollution Sample (250 Words)

Air pollution is a pressing global issue that affects the health and well-being of people and the environment. It occurs when harmful substances, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds, are released into the atmosphere. This pollution can have dire consequences for both humans and the planet.

First and foremost, air pollution poses a significant threat to human health. Particulate matter and toxic gases can enter the respiratory system, leading to various respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis. Long-term exposure to polluted air has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and premature death. Vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk.

Additionally, air pollution has adverse effects on the environment. It contributes to climate change by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to rising global temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events. Moreover, pollutants can harm ecosystems, contaminate water bodies, and damage crops, impacting food security.

The sources of air pollution are diverse, including industrial processes, transportation, agriculture, and energy production. To combat this problem, governments, industries, and individuals must take collective action. Implementing stricter emission standards for vehicles and industrial facilities, transitioning to cleaner energy sources, and promoting public transportation are essential steps in reducing air pollution.

In conclusion, air pollution is a critical issue that affects human health and the environment. Its detrimental effects on respiratory health and its contributions to climate change necessitate urgent action. By adopting sustainable practices and reducing emissions, we can mitigate the impact of air pollution and create a healthier and more sustainable future for all.

Related Reads:-     

Air pollution is the contamination of air due to the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials.

To prevent air pollution, reduce vehicle emissions by using public transport, carpooling, or opting for electric vehicles. Promote clean energy sources like wind and solar power. Implement strict industrial emissions standards. Encourage reforestation and green spaces. Educate the public about responsible waste disposal and advocate for clean energy policies.

We hope this blog gave you an idea about how to write and present an essay on air pollution that put forth your opinions. The skill of writing an essay comes in handy when appearing for standardized language tests. Thinking of taking one soon? Leverage Edu provides the best online test prep for the same via Leverage Live . Register today to know more!

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Air Pollution Essay

Air pollution is a significant concern across the world. Air pollution occurs when dangerous particles, gases, and chemicals are released into the air. The pollutants of air can be found in vehicles, factories, power plants, and construction sites. Air pollution also causes smog, making it difficult to breathe or even see things as near as 100 feet. To combat this, many governments have created and enforced policies to reduce air pollution, such as shutting down coal power plants or requiring car owners to switch over to electric cars. It is high time we realise the severity of this issue and act towards avoiding air pollution. To learn more about air pollution, let us go through the air pollution essay available at BYJU’S.

Air Pollution Essay

Table of Contents

Air pollution essay 100 words, causes of air pollution.

Effects of Air Pollution

How to Reduce Air Pollution?

Air pollution is a concern for people all over the world. Air pollution is most often caused by burning fossil fuels like petroleum, coal, and natural gas. The exhaust fumes released by vehicles fill the air with toxic particles. Pollution can cause health problems, such as asthma, headaches and other symptoms of allergies.

The World Health Organisation has classified air pollution as an environmental risk to human health. Many countries have taken action concerning air pollution. After reading the air pollution essay 100 words and learning about air pollution, let us now move on to understand the causes.

Air pollution is caused by vehicles, factories, power plants, and trash burning. Vehicles cause air pollution by burning gasoline or diesel. The most significant cause of air pollution is burning fossil fuels to create energy like coal and oil. Air pollution can be considered a contributor to global warming , a major challenge we face today.

You can keep your little ones engaged in learning by asking them to write an essay on air pollution and create a pictorial representation of the same.

Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health

There are many harmful effects of air pollution. It causes respiratory problems and other health issues in people. It also causes lung diseases and cancer. Like any other type of pollution, the health risks of air pollution are high for any living being.

People are more likely to die from respiratory disease and lung cancer in heavily polluted areas. Air pollution causes conditions that make people more susceptible to respiratory infection and inflammation. The body can also absorb harmful substances in polluted air easily.

These are the adverse effects of air pollution that we come across in the air pollution essay pdf. There are a few preventive measures and remedies to reduce air pollution for these harmful effects. Let us understand how to reduce air pollution by referring to the air pollution essay.

Air pollution has been a critical issue for many countries. It is the second-largest contributor to drastic climate change after carbon dioxide. BYJU’S air pollution essay in English helps us learn some new ways to control air pollution.

Planting more trees is one of the significant ways to reduce air pollution. Afforestation is a much-needed action to protect our planet from further damage.

Increasing the usage of eco-friendly materials and renewable energy play a vital role in combating air pollution. In addition, eco-friendly fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), biogas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), etc. play an essential role in reducing air pollution.

To conclude, air pollution is a serious issue, and we must fight to overcome this and save the Earth . For more kids learning activities, ensure to visit BYJU’S website.

Frequently Asked Questions on Air Pollution Essay

Does afforestation help reduce air pollution.

Yes. Afforestation helps in reducing air pollution as it increases the supply of oxygen and decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

How does air pollution harm human beings?

Air pollution is hazardous for humans, and it can lead to respiratory problems and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. It also causes heart attacks and strokes.

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Causes of Pollution Essay

Pollution is the result of dangerous compounds, or pollutants, interacting with the elements of the natural environment. There are many different types of pollution—soil, air, water, and land pollution. Whatever type of pollution it is, it has a negative impact on our environment, people, animals and ecosystem as a whole. Here are some essays on ‘Causes of Pollution’ that students can refer to for their school assignments and projects.

100 Words Essay Causes of Pollution

200 words essay causes of pollution, 500 words essay causes of pollution.

Causes of Pollution Essay

Pollution is the release of undesired elements into the environment, which can harm our planet. Water pollution, air pollution, soil contamination, and noise pollution are the four basic forms of pollution. Our reckless actions have resulted in pollution of many types. We directly dump waste into bodies of water, which causes water contamination. Vehicles and Industrial waste that emit smoke into the air generate air pollution, which makes it difficult for all living things to breathe. Directly depositing the waste into landfills leads to soil pollution. Although it cannot be seen, noise pollution is a severe type of pollution that can harm our ears.

Environmental pollution is caused by a variety of human activities. Global population growth and widespread development have led to a rise in human activity, including deforestation, industrialization, and urbanisation, among other things. Each of these activities has a different impact on the environment. For example, industrialization pollutes air and water bodies because manufacturing sectors produce a large amount of harmful pollutants in both gaseous and liquid forms. Lack of effective management causes these contaminants to be released into the environment, causing pollution of the air and water sources. Similarly, vehicles used for transportation run on fossil fuels, which when burned release dangerous chemicals like Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide etc.

These gases then interact with the atmosphere, generating air pollution that is the cause for several respiratory diseases and also result in genetic problems in both plants and animals. Even while human actions like deforestation didn't directly cause pollution, they nonetheless make the planet less able to combat it. Natural air filters and buffer zones are provided by forests. In addition to absorbing noise pollution, they also convert carbon dioxide into vital oxygen. When more forests are destroyed, the concentration of these harmful chemicals in the atmosphere rises, which has a negative impact on both human and animal health.

The natural order of our ecosystems has been disturbed by pollution, which has had serious negative impacts on the inhabitants of Earth. Unchecked and unlawful activities that abuse natural resources and disregard regulations established by pollution control boards around the nation are the main cause of pollution. A pollutant can be in any form. It might be a liquid, a solid, or even a gas. No matter what condition the pollutant is in, if it is not controlled, it could have catastrophic repercussions on our natural ecosystem.

Factors Leading To Pollution

We've covered a few of the key causes of environmental contamination below. All of the elements are related to human activities and the human desire to extend, explore, and grow.

Plastic Usage | One of the primary contributors to environmental degradation is the excessive use of plastic in consumable products like bags and other consumable materials. Plastic is not biodegradable and will remain in the environment in its current form for generations. Thin plastic bags shatter into tiny fragments that end up in the land and water bodies, polluting them.

Industrialisation | Our pursuit of economic development has given rise to several industries around the world. As a result, many manufacturing businesses release harmful gases into the atmosphere. Industrial emissions may also include solids, chemicals, and harmful gases. These compounds are freely released into the environment by industries due to a lack of appropriate policies, which in turn results in environmental damage.

Fossil Fuels | The primary fuel for transportation vehicles is fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are byproducts of burning fossil fuels. The quantity of these harmful chemicals in the atmosphere increases as the number of automobiles on the road increases. Additionally, businesses that produce fossil fuels release toxic gaseous compounds that are particularly bad for the environment.

Heavy Machinery And Development | Every minute, new buildings are being built; within a few hours, people and equipment can be transported between locations using large jet liners and transportation vehicles. The biggest sources of noise pollution are these large equipment used in construction and aircrafts. Despite not being as serious as air and water pollution, noise pollution nevertheless has a negative influence on both the environment and human health.

Agricultural Activities | Agricultural practices, such as the use of chemical fertilisers, damage the soil, causing soil pollution. Modern fertilisers contain chemicals that, while temporarily increasing crop productivity, are bad for the environment in the long run. These substances mix with the soil and are later carried away by runoff into our surface and groundwater supplies.

How To Combat Pollution

After becoming aware of the damaging effects of pollution, everyone has a duty to take steps to prevent it. We should be aware of every precaution that can be taken to reduce pollution. For instance, we should avoid using fireworks during celebrations, use public transit or carpool, use loudspeakers sparingly, and stop from honking in public to lessen noise pollution. We must keep this situation in mind at all times so that we can react appropriately. It is our responsibility to practise caution and spread awareness among people around us at first. We should take actions that are good for the environment, including planting more trees, using less plastic, using more eco-friendly household items, etc.When addressing global pollution, always keep in mind that every small action now will have a greater impact tomorrow.

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Causes and Solutions to Air Pollution (IELTS Writing Task 2)

rose427 1 / 1   Nov 15, 2019   #1 Prompt: Air pollution is one of the largest problems the world is facing today. What are some causes of air pollution and what measures can be proposed to solve this problem? (Also if you happen to find any phrase or sentence unnatural, or spot any misused word, please kindly let me know. Many thanks in advance!) It is undeniable that air pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues that the world has to face today. This essay attempts to explore some major causes of the issue and propose some possible solutions to it. Although air pollution results from various factors, primarily responsible for it is none other than human activity. In many parts of the world, intact forests have been cleared at an astonishing rate for pasturelands and croplands, with a number of illegal logging cases for valuable hardwoods. Forests, known for its ability to massively utilize carbon dioxide and release oxygen and water vapor into the atmosphere, play an essential role in purifying the air we breathe. For this reason, their removal has done more harm than good to the air quality around the area, or even on a global scale. In addition to deforestation, another human-related leading cause of air pollution is vehicle emissions, which in fact is the predominant source of air pollution in city environments. With the rapidly expanding urbanization across the world, the motor vehicle population grows exponentially, meaning that an elevated level of pollutants is produced in the urban air on a daily basis. Fortunately, several measures can be taken to protect the global air from further contamination. An effective method to cut down on emissions in the cities is to promote the use of environmentally friendly transports. Alternatives such as public transportation and fully electric vehicles either minimize emission per vehicle or do not emit exhaust fumes, therefore will help reduce vehicle emissions significantly. Another measure pertains to how forests should be protected and managed. It will be the government's responsibility to enforce tighter regulation on deforestation as well as stricter punishment for illegal logging. In other words, forest clearance for any purpose will be restricted unless it is utterly necessary, and pushing up the penalty will discourage people from violating the laws. In conclusion, our mistreatment of our environment has greatly contributed to the cause of air pollution. However, as long as we take appropriate action with keen patience, it is possible that we can bring the air quality in our living areas back to its clean and fresh form.

the cause of air pollution essay

OP rose427 1 / 1   Nov 17, 2019   #3 @Maria Greatly appreciate your feedbacks!

the cause of air pollution essay

Wildfire smoke from Canada caused dangerously unhealthy air quality in New York City and across much of the U.S. in 2023. While air quality has improved greatly in the U.S. in recent decades, wildfire smoke and other climate-influenced problems are endangering that progress. Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Wildfire smoke from Canada caused dangerously unhealthy air quality in New York City and across much of the U.S. in 2023. While air quality has improved greatly in the U.S. in recent decades, wildfire smoke and other climate-influenced problems are endangering that progress.

Over one-third of Americans, or about 130 million people, routinely breathe in unhealthy air, according to the newest State of the Air report from the American Lung Association (ALA). That number is larger in 2023 than in years past, despite significant long-term and ongoing efforts to clean the nation's air. And climate change, the report says, is making the job harder.

Hotter temperatures lead to more ozone formation and can make the air dustier, too. But the biggest climate-fueled pollution challenge comes from wildfire smoke , which has added vast quantities of dangerous fine particle pollution to the air. Western states like California and Colorado have found that wildfire smoke is counterbalancing long-term, successful efforts to clean up pollution from human-controlled industrial sources , like coal-fired power plants and diesel truck exhaust.

"Wildfires are changing the landscape, literally and figuratively," says Katherine Pruitt, national policy director at the American Lung Association.

Long-term air improvements interrupted in the West

Since the passage of the landmark Clean Air Act in 1970 , the country's air has improved markedly. Measures like adding pollution control to cars, trucks, and fossil-fuel-burning power plants cut down on the amount of fine particles in the air. Those particles can penetrate deep into people's lungs and even cross into the bloodstream, where they contribute to a range of chronic and acute health risks.

Between 1990 and 2020, pollution from those fine particles dropped by about 40% nationwide . The improvements were particularly noticeable in industrial East Coast cities and states.

This year's State of the Air report reiterates that most of the country, most notably the eastern U.S., has gotten cleaner over time as industrial pollution sources have been reined in.

But in the West, 2023 had the most days ever recorded with dangerous or very dangerous air quality, measured by the Air Quality Index. And for the first time in the report's 25-year history, the 25 cities with the worst short-term particle pollution in the country were all in the Western U.S.

"The severity of the pollution is unprecedented," says Pruitt.

The report highlights an increasingly clear challenge, says Susan Anenberg, an air quality expert at George Washington University and a consultant for the EPA. Through regulations over past decades, "we've pretty much addressed the easiest ways of reducing pollution," she says. "So we have catalytic converters on our vehicles, we have diesel particulate filters on our trucks, we have scrubbers on our power plants."

But now, Anenberg says, the challenge is getting harder as human-driven climate change worsens some problems like ozone, a gas that forms near the ground when pollutants and some natural compounds react with sunlight and heat, and wildfire smoke. The easy wins, she says, are gone.

"It just really underscores that we need to do both things at the same time," Anenberg says. "We need to reduce carbon emissions that are causing anthropogenic climate change, and we need to continue to pursue stringent regulations on air pollution emissions."

A soup of unhealthy pollutants

The State of the Air report tracks particle pollution and ozone. Both are harmful to people's health, increasing the risk of respiratory problems like asthma. Fine particle pollution has also been linked to worse heart disease outcomes and even the development of dementia.

Bakersfield, California, has stayed at the top of the report's list for the U.S. city with the worst short-term particle pollution in the country for five years. This time, it also got top billing for year-round particle pollution, too. The region is a major site of oil and gas production as well as agriculture, both of which produce significant local pollution.

"Those industries are the main driver of our economy but also our air pollution," says Jasmin Martinez, an advocate at the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition who has lived most of their life in the San Joaquin Valley, where Bakersfield lies. The area has been heavily polluted for their entire lifetime, despite the federal and state laws mandating local industries to minimize pollution.

They chose to move back home after college even though they were well aware of the dangers. "It's always in the back of my mind, just living here, I may be just losing years of my life," Martinez says.

Air pollution helps hasten t ens or even hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year in the U.S. alone. It is one of the most profound public health risks in the nation, says Pruitt.

Bangor, Maine, and Honolulu, Hawaii, have some of the cleanest air in the country.

Unequal exposure to dirty air

While air in the U.S. got much cleaner overall after Clean Air Act-related regulations, the improvements were far from uniformly shared. Communities of color and low-income Americans have historically breathed in dirtier air than wealthier or whiter communities , a disparity that continues into 2024, the report says.

About 130 million Americans live in places where particle or ozone pollution exceeds levels the EPA considers healthy. About 70 million of those are people of color.

Pruitt stresses people of color are "more than twice as likely as white people to live in a place that gets failing grades" for short and long-term particle pollution and ozone, she says.

Opportunity for progress?

Late last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a long-awaited update to its regulatory standard for PM2.5, or fine particle pollution . The agency lowered the allowable pollution from 12 micrograms per meter cubed of air averaged over a year to 9—a major tightening, says Anenberg.

The tighter standard still far exceeds the World Health Organization's recommendation of 5 micrograms or less.

The American Lung Association used the new standard to calculate dangerous exposures. Applying the new value, they found the number of Americans exposed to unhealthy air rose from about 120 million people counted in the previous report to roughly 130 million.

What that really means, says Pruitt, is that "those people have been breathing unhealthy air for years." They simply weren't counted yet.

Meeting the new standard will take years to achieve, but Pruitt welcomes the rules. Next, she says, she hopes to see similar standard tightening for ozone pollution.

Meanwhile, climate change complicates efforts to clean up the air, says Anenberg. "This report tells us that we need to ramp up our carbon mitigation efforts so that we're slowing the rate of climate change because that climate change is putting more pollution into the air," she says. At the same time, "we need to redouble our efforts to reduce pollution from the sources where it's possible to reduce pollution."

May 3, 2024

Gas Stove Pollution Lingers in Homes for Hours Even outside the Kitchen

Gas stoves spew nitrogen dioxide at levels that frequently exceed those that are deemed safe by health organizations

By Allison Parshall

Hands of a man turning knob to light a gas stove

Lucas Ninno/Getty Images

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. homes have gas stoves, which spew a host of compounds that are harmful to breathe , such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, benzenes and high quantities of nitrogen dioxide.

Decades of well-established research have linked nitrogen dioxide, or NO 2 , to respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which especially affect children and older adults. This harmful link is so well established that some states have begun banning gas appliances in new construction. And now a new study has shown in stark detail just how long and far this gas spreads and lingers in a home . By sampling homes across the U.S., the researchers found that in many, levels of exposure to NO 2 can soar above the World Health Organization’s one-hour exposure limit for multiple hours—even in the bedroom that is farthest from the kitchen.

"The concentrations [of NO 2 ] we measured from stoves led to dangerous levels down the hall in bedrooms ... and they stayed elevated for hours at a time. That was the biggest surprise for me," says Rob Jackson, a sustainability researcher at Stanford University and senior author of the study, which was published on May 3 in Science Advances.

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The researchers collected real-world data on NO 2 concentrations before, during and for several hours after the use of gas and propane stoves in houses and apartments in California, Colorado, Texas, New York State and Washington, D.C. In six homes, they tested the levels of NO 2 in the bedroom farthest from the kitchen for a basic “bread baking” scenario: they set the gas or propane oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit (245 degrees Celsius) and left it on for an hour and a half. The team continued sampling the air for up to six hours after the oven was turned off.

In all six homes, the NO 2 concentration in the bedroom quickly exceeded the WHO’s chronic exposure guideline of about five parts per billion by volume. And in three of the bedrooms, the levels soared even above the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the WHO’s respective one-hour exposure guidelines, which both set the limit at about 100 parts per billion by volume. (The EPA’s guidelines are intended for outdoor air exposure because the agency does not regulate indoor air pollution.)

Line chart shows nitrogen dioxide levels in the bedroom farthest from the kitchen in six houses over six hours, including about 90 minutes during which the oven was on. NO2 levels in four homes met or exceeded the EPA’s threshold for short-term exposure.

Amanda Montañez; Source: “Nitrogen Dioxide Exposure, Health Outcomes, and Associated Demographic Disparities due to Gas and Propane Combustion by U.S. Stoves,” by Yannai Kashtan et al., in Science Advances , Vol. 10, Article No. eadm8680. Published online May 3, 2024

The bedroom exposure data from the new study can be seen in the graph above. “Think about that graph happening two times a day," Jackson says. “You cook at lunch, and then you cook again at dinner. Maybe you cook breakfast. It’s over and over again, hundreds of days a year.”

Jackson and his colleagues next wanted to find out which factors had the greatest impact on the level of NO 2 exposure from gas stoves. So they used a computer model to estimate airflow and contaminant concentration in indoor spaces. They validated the model by comparing its estimates with directly measured concentrations of NO 2 from 18 homes of differing sizes and layouts before, during and after using a gas stove. The researchers tested this with the range hood on and off and with the kitchen windows open and closed, airing out the residences between each trial.

After confirming that their real-world observations matched the model’s predictions, the team could then use the program to estimate how much NO 2 someone might be exposed to depending on many different factors, such as their home’s size and layout, the amount of time they spend with the windows open and how often they use the stove’s range hood.

The researchers found that those living in homes smaller than 800 square feet or making under $35,000 a year were being regularly exposed to levels of NO 2 at or far exceeding the WHO’s threshold for chronic exposure. Finally, by combining these data with previous research on the link between long-term gas and propane stove exposure and pediatric asthma, the researchers calculated that such exposure could account for 200,000 current cases of childhood asthma, with 50,000 of those attributable to NO 2 alone.

"I think that this modeled data is valuable because it gives you very clear numbers” to see how much NO 2 we’re being exposed to at different time points during and following gas stove use, says pulmonologist Laura Paulin, who studies indoor air pollution at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “We are blowing past these outdoor air regulations [and] recommendations” with indoor NO 2 exposure alone, she says.

In a 2014 study , Paulin and her colleagues showed how people can decrease concentrations of this pollutant in their home. The best way is to swap out a gas or propane stove for an electric one. But for some people, especially renters, this may not be a feasible option.

If you’re stuck with a gas stove, Paulin suggests turning on your range hood every time you cook with gas, even if the fan is loud and annoying. Still, these aren’t always very effective: Jackson and his colleagues found that the hoods in the homes they surveyed were anywhere between 10 and 70 percent effective. Those numbers applied only to hoods that vented outside. Some hoods instead spew air right back into your living space and do little more than disperse the pollutants throughout it.

Another way to improve ventilation is to open your windows while you cook—if weather permits and if the outside air is not polluted as well.

And if all else fails, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifiers can help filter out some of these indoor pollutants. If the purifier has a carbon prefilter, it can remove some NO 2 from the air. In Paulin’s 2014 study, she found that placing such filters in the kitchen could reduce NO 2 levels by 20 percent.

As we spend more of our lives indoors, it becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the quality of the indoor air we breathe . “Our outdoor air is getting cleaner. But we have ignored indoor air pollution in considering risk for people in this country,” Jackson says.


Exposure to indoor air pollution and adverse pregnancy outcomes in low and middleincome countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Chala D. Yadate

  • 1 Wollo University, Dessie, Ethiopia
  • 2 Amref Health Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

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Introduction: Exposure to indoor air pollution such as biomass fuel and particulate matter is a significant cause of adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, there is limited information about the association between indoor air pollution exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes in low and middle-income countries. Therefore, this meta-analysis aimed to determine the association between indoor air pollution exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes in low and middle-income countries. Methods: International electronic databases such as PubMed, Science Direct, Global Health, African Journals Online, HINARI, Semantic Scholar, and Google and Google Scholar were used to search for relevant articles. The study was conducted according to the updated Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. A random effect model at a 95% confidence interval was used to determine the association between indoor air pollution exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes using STATA version 14. Funnel plot and Higgs I 2 statistics were used to determine the publication bias and heterogeneity of the included studies, respectively. Results: A total of 30 articles with 2,120,228 study participants were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled association between indoor air pollution exposure and at least one adverse pregnancy outcome was 15.5% (95%CI: 12.6-18.5), with significant heterogeneity (I 2 =100%; p < 0.001). Exposure to indoor air pollution increased the risk of small for gestational age by 23.7% (95%CI: 8.2-39.3) followed by low birth weight (17.7%; 95%CI: 12.9-22.5). Exposure to biomass fuel (OR=1.16; 95%CI: 1.12-1.2), particulate matter (OR=1.28; 95%CI: 1.25-1.31), and kerosene (OR= 1.38; 95%CI: 1.09-1.66) were factors associated with developing at least one adverse pregnancy outcomes. We found that more than one in seven pregnant women exposed to indoor air pollution had at least one adverse pregnancy outcome. Specifically, exposure to particulate matter, biomass fuel, and kerosene were determinant factors for developing at least one adverse pregnancy outcome. Therefore, urgent comprehensive health intervention should be implemented in the area to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Keywords: Adverse pregnancy outcomes, low birth weight, Preterm Birth, small for gestational age, Stillbirth, biomass

Received: 22 Jan 2024; Accepted: 08 May 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Yadate, Asmare, Demeke, Arefaynie, Mohammed, Tareke, Keleb, Kebede, TSEGA, Wndawkie, Kebede, Mesfin, Abeje and Bekele. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Chala D. Yadate, Wollo University, Dessie, Ethiopia

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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the cause of air pollution essay

  • Environment
  • Pollution and environmental quality
  • Emissions of air pollutants
  • Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs

Emissions of air pollutants in the UK – Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)

Updated 19 February 2024

the cause of air pollution essay

© Crown copyright 2024

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .

Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/emissions-of-air-pollutants/emissions-of-air-pollutants-in-the-uk-particulate-matter-pm10-and-pm25

1. What is particulate matter, and why are emissions of it estimated?

Particulate Matter (PM) is everything in the air that is not a gas and as such it is made up from a huge variety of chemical compounds and materials, some of which are toxic. Due to the small size of many of the particles that form PM, some of these toxins may enter the bloodstream and be transported around the body, entering the heart, brain and other organs. Therefore, exposure to PM can result in serious impacts on health, especially in vulnerable groups of people such as the young, elderly and those with respiratory problems.

PM is classified according to size. The UK currently focuses on estimating the fractions of PM emissions where particles are less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) and less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5). This approach is based on scientific consensus and longstanding evidence regarding the extent to which different sizes of particles penetrate into the respiratory system, and are absorbed by the lungs.

Different emission sources can produce different proportions of coarse and fine particulate matter. For example, construction and demolition emit a higher proportion of coarse particles (PM10), while in industrial combustion, the majority of PM emissions are fine particles (PM2.5). In the data in this report, PM10 includes all particles under 10 micrometers in diameter, including particles under 2.5 micrometers. This means that there are more tonnes of emissions of PM10 than PM2.5, as PM2.5 is included within estimates for PM10.

“Primary” PM is emitted directly as particles (for example, soot or dust) and “secondary” PM is formed in the atmosphere from reactions between other pollutants (for example ammonia or NMVOCs). Both PM and the precursor pollutants that can form it can travel large distances in the atmosphere. Around half of the concentrations of PM that people in the UK are exposed to come from either naturally occurring sources, such as pollen and sea spray, or are transported to the UK from international shipping and other countries. The remaining half of UK concentrations of PM come from human activities in the UK, such as wood burning, various industrial processes and tyre and brake wear from vehicles. As such, it is in the interest of the UK to identify and reduce all these emissions where possible.

PM can be emitted both by natural processes, such as forest fires, and as a result of human activities, such as the combustion of fuels. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, and the statistical tables published as part of this release, focus on emissions of ”primary” PM from human activities in the UK, but there are a few exceptions included as memo items, such as forest fires. The information presented in this document only covers “primary” PM emissions from human activities within the UK.

The Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution’s amended Gothenburg Protocol (CLRTAP) and the National Emission Ceilings Regulations (2018) (NECR) require the UK to reduce emissions of PM2.5 by 30 per cent compared to emissions in 2005 by 2020 and to stay below this level in each subsequent year until 2029. The NECR also requires the UK to reduce emissions by 46 per cent compared to emissions in 2005 by 2030. The UK needs to estimate emission levels to assess and report on progress made towards these commitments.

2. Trends in total annual emissions of PM10 and PM2.5 in the UK, 1970 to 2022

Figure 3: Annual emissions of PM10 and PM2.5 in the UK: 1970-2022

the cause of air pollution essay

  • ‘ERC’ refers to the UK 2020-2029 emission reduction commitments, as set out in the National Emission Ceilings Regulations (2018)/Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. These commitments apply to PM2.5 only.

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Annual emissions of PM10 have decreased by 82 per cent since 1970, to 127 thousand tonnes in 2022. They have increased by 1 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

Annual emissions of PM2.5 have decreased by 88 per cent since 1970, to 65 thousand tonnes in 2022. They have decreased by 2 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

In the UK PM2.5 emissions decreased by 41 per cent between 2005 and 2022. Therefore, in 2022, the UK did meet the 30 per cent emission reduction commitment required between 2020 to 2029 as set out in the NECR.

Levels of both pollutants generally decreased between 1970 and the late-2000s. There are many reasons for this long-term decrease, which covers most emissions sources, but the reduction in the burning of coal and improved emission standards for transport and industrial processes are major drivers. Since the late 2000s annual emissions of PM have generally continued to fall, but the rate of change has reduced. Compared to earlier decades, emission levels have been relatively steady with small annual fluctuations. Considerable decreases in emissions from some sources (e.g. from road transport and energy industries) have been largely offset by increases in emissions from wood burning in domestic settings and from solid fuel burning by industry (particularly the burning of biomass based-fuels). In 2020 PM emissions reached the lowest level since estimates began due to reduced economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Major emission sources for PM10 and PM2.5 in the UK

Figure 4: UK annual emissions of PM10 by 2022 major emission source: 1990, 2005, 2021 and 2022

the cause of air pollution essay

‘Industrial processes and product use’ refers to specific industrial production processes, including some where fuel combustion is a necessary part of the process, such as the production of steel. This also includes the use of manufactured products, both industrial (such as the use of solvents, adhesives and lubricants) and non-industrial (such as cigarette smoking).

‘Industrial combustion’ refers to the burning of fuels on manufacturing and construction sites, to generate energy for industrial use, for example to drive mobile machinery or to create heat or electricity for industrial processes. This does not include emissions from fuel combustion in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors, from the public sector, from the commercial sector, or emissions from energy industries for public heating and power.

Figure 5: UK annual emissions of PM2.5 by 2022 major emission source: 1990, 2005, 2021 and 2022

the cause of air pollution essay

Industrial combustion is a major source of PM emissions. Emissions from this source contributed 10 per cent of PM2.5 emissions and contributed 5 per cent of PM10 emissions in 2022. PM emissions from industrial combustion have reduced in the long term as the use of coal as a fuel has fallen. However, emissions from this source have been relatively stable since 2008, with only a small drop overall, as reductions in emissions from the industrial combustion of fossil fuels have been largely offset by an increase in the industrial combustion of biomass based-fuels. Industrial combustion of biomass based-fuels contributed less than 1 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions in the years prior to 2009 but has since risen to represent 6 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions in 2022.

Emissions from industrial processes and product use, which contributed 16 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions and contributed 38 per cent of total PM10 emissions in 2022, have also remained fairly stable in recent years. However, emissions from this source have decreased in the longer term as the manufacturing output of chemical and steel industries have reduced in the UK, alongside improvements to emission controls for these processes. In 2022 construction and demolition was the most emitting sector within this source, followed by iron and steel production and the production of other mineral products (particularly the manufacture of ‘non-fletton’ bricks, i.e. bricks made from clay).

Domestic combustion covers households burning a variety of fuels including wood, coal, solid smokeless fuels, and fuels derived from waste such as coffee logs. This was a major source of PM emissions in 2022, as it contributed 29 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions and contributed 15 per cent of total PM10 emissions. Most emissions from this source come from households burning wood in stoves and open fires. The use of wood as a fuel contributed 75 per cent of both total PM2.5 and PM10 emissions from domestic combustion in 2022. Domestic combustion of wood contributed 22 per cent of overall PM2.5 emissions and contributed 11 per cent of overall PM10 emissions in 2022. Emissions of PM2.5 and PM10 from domestic wood burning increased by 56 per cent between 2012 and 2022. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, coal combustion was the primary source of PM emissions from households; yet the use of coal as a fuel has fallen over time (in 2022 the combustion of coal contributed 12 per cent of PM2.5 emissions from domestic combustion).

Road transport continues to be a major source of PM emissions, as it contributed 18 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions and contributed 16 per cent of total PM10 emissions in 2022. Road transport emissions are made up of both exhaust emissions and non-exhaust emissions (brake, tyre and road wear). Exhaust emissions have decreased markedly from 1996 to 2022 due to stricter emissions standards (decreased by 93 per cent for both PM2.5 and PM10). However, non-exhaust emissions (brake, tyre and road wear) have increased by 15 per cent for PM2.5 and increased by 14 per cent for PM10 between 1996 and 2022, as the overall number of kilometres travelled by vehicles each year in the UK has increased over this period. This means that most PM emissions from road transport derive from non-exhaust emissions, which alone contributed 15 per cent of total PM2.5 emissions and contributed 14 per cent of total PM10 emissions in 2022.

Levels and trends in emissions from specific sources are available for the period 1990 to 2022 through the statistical tables that accompany this release.

4. Sections in this release

Emissions of nitrogen oxides

Emissions of ammonia

Emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds

Emissions of sulphur dioxide

Compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics and Defra group Statistics quality principles, and recent changes to the publication

Methods and quality processes for UK air pollutant emissions statistics (PDF)

Statistical tables (ENV01 – Emissions of air pollutants)

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the cause of air pollution essay

Over 30,000 Ugandans die from air pollution annually — NEMA


The executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Dr Barirega Akankwasah, has expressed concern over uncontrolled air pollution claiming over 30,000 people annually in Uganda.

With its devastating consequences on urban residents due to rapid growth and development, Dr Akankwasah who was addressing the media at Uganda Media Centre about the Air Quality Awareness Week starting Monday 6 to Friday 10, 2024, warned the public against destroying the environment.

“In Uganda, compromised air quality increases disease burden with close to 31,600 people dying from air pollution-related diseases annually, especially in urban areas starting with Kampala. ;This is a staggering number, and it's time we take action to address this silent killer,” he said.

Air pollution is caused by a combination of factors, including industrial activities, vehicle emissions, and burning of fossil fuels. Kampala's rapid urbanisation and population growth have led to an increase in the number of vehicles on the road, as well as a rise in industrial activities.

“Unfortunately, many households in Kampala and other urban centres in the country still rely on burning charcoal and firewood for cooking, which also contributes to air pollution,” he added.

The tiny particles in the air can cause respiratory problems, lung disease, and other health issues.

“Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. The economic impacts of air pollution in Kampala are estimated to be in the billions of dollars,” he analysed.

Air pollution not only affects people's health but also has significant economic impacts. The health effects of air pollution result in lost productivity, increased healthcare costs, and reduced economic activity.

“Air pollution can damage crops, leading to reduced agricultural productivity and food security. Fortunately, there are several possible solutions to address air pollution in Kampala implementing policies to reduce industrial emissions and promote cleaner production practices,” he highlighted.

Akankwasah disclosed that air pollution is the leading environmental risk to human health, with 99% of people worldwide exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

“Globally, air pollution is associated with 6.7 million premature deaths annually, which is a significantly higher number than deaths from malaria, HIV, road accidents, and battle-related deaths combined,” he revealed.

Despite the alarming statistics, air pollution control in Uganda remains underfunded and under-prioritised.

“The leading causes of air pollution in Uganda are transport, domestic and biomass burning, industrial emissions, and dust released from untarmacked roads,” Akankwasah identified.

New air quality standards The Government of Uganda, he said, has implemented several measures, including the establishment of national standards and regulations for air quality, tree planting, and the requirement for industries to install scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators, and fabric filters to reduce industrial emissions.

“Industries will be required to install automated air quality monitors that transmit data automatically to a central database, and those that emit above allowable standards will require permits and will be penalised,” he directed.

Akankwasah suggested other measures including proper waste management, tarmacking of roads, addressing vehicular pollution, promoting cleaner energies, and continuous research and development in renewable energies, air quality monitoring technologies, and cleaner production technologies.


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