Air Pollution Solutions

While air pollution is a serious problem, it is a problem that we can solve! In the United States and around the world, people are taking action to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The Clean Air Act: How Laws Can Help Clean Up the Air

Creating policies and passing laws to restrict air pollution has been an important step toward improving air quality. In 1970, fueled by persistent visible smog in many U.S. cities and industrial areas and an increase in health problems caused by air pollution, the Clean Air Act paved the way for numerous efforts to improve air quality in the United States. The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set air quality standards for several hazardous air pollutants reported in the Air Quality Index (AQI) , requires states to have a plan to address air pollution and emissions reduction, and also addresses problems such as acid rain, ozone holes, and greenhouse gas pollution which is causing the climate to warm.

Since the Clean Air Act was passed:

Source: EPA

Most industrialized countries have laws and regulations about air quality. The United Kingdom first passed its Clean Air Act in 1956 following a deadly smog event that killed many London residents. In China, where rapid industrial and urban growth in recent decades resulted in a sharp decrease in air quality, numerous laws about air pollution have been passed, including a frequently updated five-year national plan to meet target reductions in air pollution.

It is important to note that while laws and regulations are helping, the effects of air pollution are still apparent. The decline of toxic air pollutants and health improvements are welcome changes, yet the growing threat of climate change due to fossil fuel emissions remains a problem that still needs to be solved.

There Are Many Solutions to Air Pollution

In order to improve air quality and slow climate warming, change needs to happen on a national and global scale. However, actions at the individual and community level are also important.

This is an illustration showing ways that you can help reduce air pollution: wind turbines are a source of renewable energy; drive low pollution vehicles; choose alternative transportation modes, such as walking, riding the bus, or riding a bicycle; refueling in the evening; and around the house choose low VOC products, use less energy, forgo the fire, and mow the grass in the evening.

Check out the EPA's website to learn more about actions you can take to reduce air pollution.

Recent Blog Articles

Can electrical brain stimulation boost attention, memory, and more?

Palliative care frightens some people: Here’s how it helps

Parents don't always realize that their teen is suicidal

Shift work can harm sleep and health: What helps?

Seeing a surgeon?

Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression: When and where is it safe?

Energy-boosting coffee alternatives: What to know

What is frontotemporal dementia?

What happens when a drug goes viral?

Proton-pump inhibitors: Should I still be taking this medication?

Staying Healthy

Air pollution: How to reduce harm to your health

Thick smoke and air pollution streaming out of four industrial chimneys, forming dark, layered clouds that partly block the sun

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Get regular exercise. Don’t smoke. Control high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. These are age-old words of wisdom for a healthful life. But when was the last time your doctors told you to avoid exposure to pollution? Accumulating evidence about the impact of pollution on our health suggests that this should be another recommendation — though it wouldn’t be easy to follow.

What is pollution?

A simple description of pollution is anything introduced into the environment by humans and that harms human health or ecosystems. As such, there are many kinds of pollution — in the air, water, and soil — which can take the form of gases, heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, and even noise.

Let’s focus here on air pollution. Outdoor air pollution includes the burning of fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) and wildfires. These generate noxious gases, smog (created by ground-level ozone), and soot (fine particles) that are harmful to breathe. Among the contributors to indoor air pollution are fireplaces and home cookstoves that use gas, coal, or biomass fuels such as wood or crop waste that are sometimes used in low-income countries.

Air pollution is a complex and vicious cycle. Its toxic effects are worsened by increased temperatures . Higher temperatures in turn increase the risk of uncontrolled wildfires and the use of energy (think of air conditioners). Both can release greenhouse gases that further drive climate change, which in turn raises temperatures and feeds other extreme weather around the globe, an ever-worsening cycle that continues to repeat.

In the United States, air pollution has improved quite a bit since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. However, some air pollutant levels have risen in the last few years, and air pollution continues to have serious ongoing health impacts, both nationally and globally.

How does air pollution affect your health?

Numerous studies over the years have repeatedly shown that increased outdoor air levels of fine particulate matter correspond to increased hospitalizations for heart disease, stroke , diabetes , pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation , and other serious health problems. Both long-term exposure and short-term exposure seem to matter.

A study published this year looked at global models of pollution levels and risk assessments of the world population over 14 years. It ties fossil fuel combustion alone to nearly nine million premature deaths worldwide in 2018 — that’s one in five deaths — including more than 350,000 in the US. Most of these deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes.

Who is especially vulnerable to the potential effects of air pollution? Anyone who is elderly, young, or pregnant, and anyone with underlying diseases such as a heart or a lung condition. Additionally, people living in low-income communities , which are often situated near industrial plants or high-traffic areas, are disproportionately affected.

What can you do to reduce the harms of pollution?

Use the air quality index (AQI) as a guide to help you. The EPA developed the AQI to measure the air quality. You can track it specifically for where you live at AirNow . When the AQI is in the unhealthy zones, try to avoid outdoor activities, especially near traffic-congested areas. Stay indoors and close the windows while using air conditioners and fans when it’s hot, if possible, to keep you from getting overheated . Or, when you go outside, wear a mask: cloth masks and surgical masks may help with larger particles, but only certain masks like N95s will filter fine particles. It also helps to change your clothes upon your return home.

Be thoughtful about transportation. Think about healthier alternatives to driving whenever you can. Buy local produce, if this is an option for you, to further cut down on global shipping and transportation that contribute to air pollution. And when driving, don’t idle your car (note: automatic download), which is estimated to waste three billion gallons of fuel and generate 30 million tons of the major greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per year in the US.

Change out your gas stove. When it is time for a new stove, choose induction or electric stoves over gas stoves. Induction cooktops not only avert indoor pollution, but also use the least amount of energy.

Consider using air purifiers. Although they do not remove all pollutants, they can improve indoor air quality. Choose an air purifier that has a high clean air delivery rate (CADR) matched for the size of your room.

Replace filters. Changing your air conditioner and air purifier filters regularly will improve your air quality and reduce energy use.

Promote clean, renewable energy. Whether it’s opting for a 100% renewable energy plan or voting for leaders that prioritize renewable energy, taking steps to decrease fossil fuel use has the double benefit of combatting climate change and air pollution, ultimately working toward a sustainable future with a healthier planet and a healthier you.

Follow me on Twitter @wynnearmand

About the Author

Wynne Armand, MD , Contributor


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Related Content

A closer look at good cholesterol featured image

A closer look at good cholesterol

Short on slumber featured image

Short on slumber

At-home tests: Help or hindrance? featured image

At-home tests: Help or hindrance?

Free healthbeat signup.

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness , is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health , plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise , pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss ...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts . PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

the problem and solution of air pollution

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness .

Jump to navigation

The Natural Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth - its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

Jump to section, 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.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants which are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year air pollution is responsible for nearly seven million deaths around the globe. Nine out of ten 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 Project, part of the Climate and Clean Energy program at NRDC. “Burning fossil fuels releases gases and chemicals into the air.” And in an especially destructive feedback loop, air pollution not only contributes to climate change but is also exacerbated by it. “Air pollution in the form of carbon dioxide and methane raises the earth’s temperature,” Walke says. “Another type of air pollution, smog, is then worsened by that increased heat, forming when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation.” Climate change also 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).

“We’ve made progress over the last 50 years improving air quality in the United States thanks to the Clean Air Act,” says Kim Knowlton , senior scientist and deputy director of the NRDC Science Center . “But climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution standards, which are designed to protect health .”

The effects of air pollution on the human body vary depending on the type of pollutant and the length and level of exposure—as well as 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 (also known as particulate matter ) is made up of tiny particles of chemicals, soil, smoke, dust, or allergens—in the form of either gas or solids—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, gas, 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, whether gaseous or solid, 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 COVID-19 mortality rates in areas with more soot pollution were higher than in areas with even slightly less, showing a correlation between the virus’s deadliness and long-term exposure to fine particulate matter and illuminating an 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. In 2019 the Union of Concerned Scientists found that soot exposure was 34 percent higher for Asian Americans , on average, than for other Americans. For Black people, the exposure rate was 24 percent higher; for Latinos, 23 percent higher.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Urge the EPA to strengthen health protections from dangerous soot air pollution

Take action, 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, incinerating, 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, 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

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 2018 carbon dioxide accounted for 81 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and methane made up 10 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 reached an agreement to reduce the use of these chemicals—which are found in air conditioners and refrigerators—and develop greener alternatives over time. Though President Trump was unwilling to sign on to this agreement, a bipartisan group of senators overrode his objections in 2020 and set the United States on track to slash HFCs by 85 percent by 2035. According to David Doniger , senior strategic director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy program, “the agreed-to HFC phasedown will avoid the equivalent of more than 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide over the next 35 years.”

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 and are less directly connected to human actions, they can be considered a form of air pollution. “When homes, schools, or businesses get water damage, mold can grow and can produce allergenic airborne pollutants,” Knowlton says. “ 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.

Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for early death. According to the most recent 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. “Despite improvements in reducing global average mortality rates from air pollution, the world’s most populous countries, India and China, continue to bear the highest burdens of disease,” says Vijay Lamaye , staff scientist at the NRDC Science Center. “This report is a sobering reminder that the climate crisis threatens to worsen air pollution problems significantly if we fail to act to cut carbon pollution.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by NRDC (@nrdc_org)

Some four out of ten U.S. residents—135 million people—live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution , according to the 2021 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 significant gains the Golden State has made in the past half-century. At the other end of the spectrum, Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina, consistently rank among the country’s best cities for air quality. ( You can check the air quality of your own city or state on this map .)

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 the 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 poor 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, members of these communities experience economic harm in the form of missed workdays, higher medical costs, and local underinvestment.

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 also among the least equipped, politically, to pressure employers and lawmakers to affirm their right to breathe clean air.

Recently, c umulative 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 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 harmful effects of climate change,” Walke says. “Make good choices about transportation. When you can, walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation. For driving, choose a car that gets better miles per gallon of gas, or choose 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 country. And most important, “Support leaders who push for clean air and water and responsible steps on climate change,” Walke says.

This story was originally published on November 1, 2016, and has been updated with new information and links. stories are 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 and link to the original; the story cannot be edited (beyond simple things such as time and place elements, style, and 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.

Related Stories

the problem and solution of air pollution

The United States Finally Joins a Global Climate Treaty That Phases Down HFCs

How NRDC leadership helped pass the Kigali Amendment and turn the tide on a common class of super-polluting refrigerant chemicals.

the problem and solution of air pollution

The Clean Air Act 101

Since its bipartisan beginnings, this bedrock law has helped keep our air clean, combat climate change, and protect public health.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Living Among the Diesel Trucks: My Environmental Injustice Story

To a college student who grew up surrounded by heavy truck traffic, warehouses, and commercial hubs in one of California’s most polluted communities, the push to electrify transportation is more than just urgent health policy—it’s personal.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Fossil Fuel Air Pollution Kills One in Five People

The global toll of premature deaths attributed to the burning of coal, gasoline, and diesel is breathtakingly high, with new research doubling previous estimates.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Air Quality Is Worsening for Half of the World’s People

A new study shows that most of us humans are likely inhaling more air pollution each year.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Our Greatest Environmental Success Is at Risk

For 50 years the Clean Air Act has proved that health and prosperity go hand in hand. The landmark law is now under threat.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Clean Air Warrior

David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Climate & Clean Energy Program, has helped shape federal and global climate-related policies since he joined NRDC in 1978.

the problem and solution of air pollution

New Mexico Has a Methane Cloud Visible by Satellite. It Also Has Bold Climate Plans.

As greenhouse gasses fill the sky, a progressive governor and worried residents take on oil and gas—the state’s most powerful industry.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Industry Surrounds Newark’s Ironbound Neighborhood—But These Residents Won’t Let It Define Them

The tireless efforts of locals are reshaping one of New Jersey’s most polluted areas.

the problem and solution of air pollution

A Coal-to-Diesel Refinery Is the Last Straw for These Indianans

The air in southwestern Indiana is bad enough without the emissions from yet another proposed polluter.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Hundreds of Workers Who Cleaned Up the Country’s Worst Coal Ash Spill Are Now Sick and Dying

Ten years after the disaster at a Tennessee power plant, the cleanup crew is seeking justice. At the same time, the Trump administration is weakening protections for this toxic pollution.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Global Warming 101

Everything you wanted to know about our changing climate but were too afraid to ask.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Crushing Cars Is a Loud, Smelly Business That’s Terrible for Air Quality

So take it somewhere else, says Chicago’s Southeast Side.

the problem and solution of air pollution

In Long Beach, Touring a Toxic Neighborhood on Bike

Residents who live near the country’s busiest ports are getting a new lens on the pollution in their backyards, and new tactics to help fight it.

the problem and solution of air pollution

She Breathes In Pollution, and Fights It, in the Windy City

NRDC’s Gina Ramirez is helping to bring attention to the wafts of manganese dust that plague her family and neighbors on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad?

Short answer: Yes. Even a seemingly slight average temperature rise is enough to cause a dramatic transformation of our planet.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Climate Change Is In the Air

As temperatures and carbon levels rise, even breathing has become a challenge. Here’s what you can do to help clear the air.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Climate Change Is Making Us Sick

Scientist Kim Knowlton monitors the inextricable connections between the planet's fragile health and our own.

the problem and solution of air pollution

The Warning Lights Are Flashing for California’s Once-Glorious Salton Sea

Since this giant salty lake in the desert lost its water supply, its bird habitat has been shrinking and more toxic dust is wafting up from its dry lake bed. Can the Salton Sea be saved?

the problem and solution of air pollution

Your Guide to Going Electric

Considering making the switch? Here's everything you need to know about driving electric cars and hybrids.

the problem and solution of air pollution

How to Protect Yourself From Outdoor Air Pollutants

Every time you go outside, you may be inhaling harmful chemicals. But don't hold your breath. Just use your head.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Fuel Efficiency Standards Don’t Just Help Curb Climate Change, They Also Create Jobs

So many technological innovations in the automobile industry stem directly from guidelines intended to reduce gas guzzling. If we lose these guidelines, we’ll also lose a lot of our workforce.

the problem and solution of air pollution

The Moss That Saved Portland

Roadside plants helped officials trace the source of a public health crisis and led to new standards for clean air in Oregon.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Chicagoans Battle Manganese Dust Pollution

Southeast Side residents have been plagued by a heavy metal that’s known to negatively impact the brain function of children.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Block Big Polluters

A step-by-step guide to protecting your community from dirty development projects.

the problem and solution of air pollution

How to Call Congress

Sometimes the best way to turn your anger into action is to pick up the phone. Follow these tips to minimize your anxiety and maximize your impact.

the problem and solution of air pollution

In Philadelphia, Climate Change Can Take Your Breath Away

But plans to cut local carbon pollution might help this asthma capital shake its wheezy reputation.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Will Calling Out Indiana’s Super-Polluting Power Plants Lead to a Cleanup?

A recent study found that the state is home to four of the country’s most polluting power plants. But elected officials won’t even show up to hear their constituents’ concerns about it.

Support Our Work

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.

© Natural Resources Defense Council 2023 Privacy Policy State Disclosures

Earth and Human

Earth and Human

Air Pollution: Causes, Effects and Solutions

Nina Howell

You must have heard various news regarding the increasing levels of smog and decreased visibility.

Despite this, air pollution has been around for a long time, only getting worse. Breathing in this polluted air can have many negative health consequences for us. It can also affect the ozone layer and have global impacts.

This is why it is a good idea to keep yourself informed about air pollution, its causes, effects, and possible solutions.

Let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What is Air Pollution?

As the name suggests, air pollution is characterized by the presence of unwanted and harmful particles or gases in the air supply. Breathing in this air can lead to a multitude of health complications. The most common pollutants are smoke, soot, pollen, methane, and carbon dioxide.

But this is not the only thing we should be worried about.

Poor air quality can harm all lifeforms, including both plants and animals. The bigger culprit for this air pollution is human interference. However, there are some natural processes that also, add to this.

Main Contaminants in Air that Causes Pollution

According to EPA , the most common culprits of air pollution are nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. The most dangerous contaminants for the United States are ground-level ozone and airborne particles. Carbon monoxide is another common pollutant.

Ground-level ozone does not pollute the air directly. It is formed by a chemical reaction between existing volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). This reaction takes place in the presence of sunlight.

The airborne particles can be categorized in two ways. The first type has impurities with a diameter of fewer than 10 micrometers and is generally inhalable. It includes dust and mold.

The second type is the one with organic compounds, combustion particles, and metals. They have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less.

Causes of Air Pollution

Now we know what air pollution is and the contaminants present in the polluted air. But where exactly does this pollution come from? What causes air pollution? The following are some of the leading causes of air pollution.

Industrial Exhaust

Factories are responsible for releasing a massive amount of chemicals and gases in the atmosphere. This pollution can include carbon monoxide, organic wastes, chemicals, and hydrocarbons. When these gases are released without going through proper filtering, they can add to air pollution.

Furthermore, the multitude of coal and oil-powered plants release a considerable amount of toxic gases. These toxic gases can contribute to nearly  50% of the mercury, 62% of the arsenic, 60% of sulfur dioxide, and 13% of the nitrogen oxide present in our air.

Household Pollution

Many household cleaning products can emit harmful chemicals into the air. Similarly, some painting supplies can also be responsible for adding to the toxic air around you. Some chemicals make it evident by emitting a strong smell while others can be wholly odor-less but still add to the overall pollution.

Other than this, dust and combustion can also be smaller additions to the air around you. Improper ventilation, as well as smoking cigarettes or cigars, may seem like minor activities, but they can be consistent contributors.

Agricultural or Commercial Waste

Chemicals such as pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers used while farming can also contribute to air pollution. A common byproduct of such agricultural activities is ammonia gas. Ammonia is one of the most hazardous gases present in our atmosphere.

This 2016 study  describes how some emissions generated from farms and ranches are more significant than the combined emission from other man-made sources. Along with ammonia, methane is a common emission generated from agricultural sites.

Similarly, growing commercialization has caused an increase in the number of construction sites. The constant excavations and demolitions can be responsible for adding a lot of unwanted dust and pollution to our air.

Burning Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels include coal or other petroleum products. When these are burned, they emit large amounts of sulfur dioxide. The primary contributors to this emission are vehicles. The exhaust from various cars, trucks, jeeps, trains, and airplanes add to increasing air pollution.

Burning fossil fuels by automobiles contribute to nearly  half of the total air pollution. As the population grows, so do the usage of these vehicles. After all, we rely heavily on them for transportation. However, they can add a lot of carbon monoxide as well as nitrogen oxides to the air around us. This is due to the improper combustion of fossil fuels.

Natural Causes

While human interference makes a significant contribution to air pollution, some of the pollutions is also caused by nature. Natural disasters such as forest fires, volcanoes, and dust storms can be responsible for causing a large amount of pollution. These can also release many harmful chemicals into our atmosphere.

Effects of Air Pollution

Respiratory Problems

Breathing in polluted air can cause a variety of respiratory problems. Air pollution has also been linked with several heart conditions. The pollution does not have to be direct for you to experience the negative impacts. Children are especially at high-risk as they are susceptible to asthma and pneumonia.

The presence of benzene and acetaldehyde in fossil fuel combustion has also been linked to cancer . WHO has reported that air pollution is responsible for nearly 7 million  deaths every year. This polluted air is also linked with lung cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s and dementia .

Global Warming

One of the main effects of air pollution is speeding up global warming. The harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases form a kind of blanket in our atmosphere. This blanket traps a lot of the solar rays from leaving our atmosphere. The heat trapped then causes a rise in temperatures all around the world.

Global warming can accelerate the melting of icecaps, icebergs, and is also responsible for the rise in sea levels. These changes can have devastating impacts on wildlife and their habitats. Global warming can also leave us more vulnerable to natural disasters.

Ozone Layer Depletion

Ozone layer depletion goes hand-in-hand with global warming. Due to the increasing levels of chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere, this layer is thinning. These gases react with the ozone layer and cause, not just thinning but also depletion in certain areas. This layer is vital in protecting us from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

As we know, fossil fuel combustion can release large amounts of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere. When water goes through its natural water cycle, the evaporated water can mix with these gases as it condenses. This combination results in an acidic rainfall. Acid rain can be extremely damaging to crops and plant life. The sulfur emissions from this rain can result in chronic lung problems for humans. .

Effect on Marine Life

A high presence of nitrogen in the air can induce a condition called eutrophication. During this condition, a layer of algae develops on the sea’s surface. This growth can have adverse effects on the fish, plants as well as the wildlife that depends on this water supply. You can also see this growth in lakes and ponds.

Effect on Wildlife

Heavy air pollution can disrupt many wildlife habitats. The poor air quality, as well as acid rains, can destroy the sustenance of many species. This can cause birds and animals to relocate. We are in danger of losing many rare species of wildlife due to their inability to acclimatize to these changes.

Solutions of Air Pollution

Switch to Public Transport

As we’ve learned about the effects of exhaust fumes on air quality, the best thing we can do is limit our vehicle usage. Instead of individual cars, we can make it a habit to use more buses and trains to reduce our carbon footprint. Similarly, switching to bicycles as a whole can be beneficial not just to the environment but also to your health.

Conserve Energy

We may not realize how much fossil fuels go into generating our electricity supply every day. To prevent adding to the existing air pollution, we should try to minimize our energy usage. This means switching off the lights and appliances whenever they aren’t in use.

Opt. for Energy-efficient Devices

As an addition to conserving energy, you should also consider switching to more energy-efficient appliances. For instance, CFL lights use a lot less electricity and also last much longer. You should also look into replacing existing appliances with their solar-powered counterparts.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle

The best way to minimize pollution is to make sure you are not adding to the existing waste. This could mean finding multiple uses for an item. In the long haul, you want to reduce the amount of waste you generate. You might not think they will not impact the air quality directly. However, these wastes are bound to end up in a landfill and impact the overall pollution generated.

Switch to Clean Energy

These days clean energy is in. Clean energy has proved that it is much more than just a passing trend. With solar, wind, and geothermal energy on the rise, switching to clean energy has never been easier.

You can find the greener version of nearly every appliance from solar lighting to motion detectors, even water heaters! The government, too, is providing tax breaks along with grants to incentivize the switch to clean energy.

In Summary,

Air pollution affects not just us humans but also plants and wildlife around us. Excessive air pollution can cause an imbalance in our ecosystem itself. The primary source of air pollution in various human activities. We can minimize this by making better and smarter choices with energy in our everyday lives.

(Last Updated on March 20, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

' src=

Nina Howell is a Rewenable Energy researcher and consultant based out of Houston, Texas Area. She earned her Master's Degree in Energy and Earth Resources from Austin Jackson School of Geosciences in 2010, and a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2008. Nina has been working in the energy sector since 2011. She worked as an Energy Supply Analyst from 2011 to 2017 in Bounce Energy and then as a Research and Energy Consultant at GE Renewable Energy from March 2017 to February 2020 . Nina is a mom of 2 beautiful children who are joy to her life. She strongly believes in eco-friendly living and is vocal about renewable energy, environmental issues, water crisis, and sustainable living.

Related Posts

Connection between world wars (i and ii) and the environmental issues, 10 longest living organisms on earth, world environment day 2022 – 47 environmental facts.

Type above and press Enter to search. Press Esc to cancel.

the problem and solution of air pollution

How can we stop this?

Pollution is everywhere — from the highest reaches of our atmosphere to the darkest depths of our oceans. And it’s killing us. But together, we can stop it.  

Together, we can #BeatPollution

How many people are dying from unhealthy environments.

The World Health Organization says 12.6 million people died due to environmental causes in 2012

Pollution has enormous human costs. Particulate matter in the air we breathe, organic pollutants and heavy metals in our food supply and drinking water — all of these pollutants cut short millions of lives every year. Those 12.6 million people represent almost a quarter of all deaths worldwide that year. The same report also found that two thirds of those killed by an unhealthy environment died of noncommunicable diseases like strokes, heart conditions, cancers, and chronic respiratory disease, mostly attributable to air pollution. The impact falls disproportionately on children and the poor, especially in less developed countries. Here's the percentage of all deaths that unhealthy environments cause in each country.

In low-income countries in Africa , diseases attributable to the environment are mostly caused by infections, parasitic illnesses, and nutritional deficiencies.

In low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia , they are increasingly due to outdoor air pollution and the declining access to drinking water.

Even though lower-income countries bear the largest share of environmental diseases, they're rising in other regions, like Latin America ...

… and some parts of Eastern Europe .

Data from WHO’s Global Health Observatory

Why are the impacts so disproportionate? Look at fossil fuels, an important source of pollution that constitutes about half of all trade volume worldwide. The most significant environmental burden of exploiting those resources is in the countries that extract them. That means that the human cost associated with that pollution remains out of sight of those whose consumption habits drove the extraction in the first place.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Why is our environment so unhealthy?

It’s our own doing

Our industries, transport systems and power facilities churn out black carbon, methane, and other pollutants that penetrate deep into our lungs. We dump our wastewater untreated into lakes and rivers, killing wildlife and contaminating our own drinking supplies. We practice unsustainable farming, fundamentally altering entire ecosystems. And we dump millions of tons of plastic into our oceans every year, threatening wildlife and fragile marine habitats. While some pollutants affect only one of those spaces, others — like waste — can impact air, soil and freshwater, as well as our oceans and coasts. Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of waste generated per person every year almost doubled. This rate will continue to grow unless we take steps to stop creating waste — and that's the key. We need to reduce the amount of trash we generate in the first place, while also finding new ways to reuse it, recycle it — or dispose of it safely. Here's how many kilograms of waste (municipal solid waste) a person produces every year, by country.

Source: What a Waste, A Global Review of Solid Waste Management , World Bank; GNI data from the World Bank

Dumpsites are sources of complex pollution mixtures: methane emissions, electronic and other hazardous waste, and heavy metals all mixed together. The 50 biggest active dumpsites in the world directly affect about 64 million people. Waste is especially of concern to small island states. These countries — many of which are tourist destinations and ports of call for international shipping — often have limited space to store their trash, and limited capacity to manage pollution. These countries are also highly vulnerable to climate change and other weather-related stresses. In such a scenario, a single storm can lead to flooding that quickly spreads waste, endangering human and environmental health.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Do we know how much damage we’re doing?

We can use certain indicators to measure our impact. This information can help us prioritize our efforts.

We can use specific measurements — from levels of pollutants to access to sanitation, to consumption or environmental policies already in place — to assess the impact of pollution and reveal the trends and geographic differences that can guide our plans to combat it. In the table below, we've used four metrics: exposure levels to fine particles as an indicator for the state of air pollution; availability of renewable water ; fertilizer consumption as a measure of our impact on soil and land; and lastly, the rate of reporting of chemicals and waste , as mandated by international conventions, to gauge how often countries meet their obligations on the matter.

Source: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet , UN Environment

Let’s take one of those proxies, the exposure to fine particles — since air quality is still a problem in most regions, and it’s the most severe of our environmental health concerns. Fine particles are the most concerning of air pollutants, and are mostly the product of burning fossil fuels, but also waste disposal, and wildfires and the burning of peatlands. The levels of fine particles (PM 2.5 ) , unlike coarse dust particles (PM 10 ) have remained resistant to the efforts to tackle the problem. And the changing weather patterns caused by climate change are exposing people to them for longer periods of time.

Data from the World Bank

the problem and solution of air pollution

So, what are we doing about it?

Many policies are helping, but more need to come.

 Of course, pollution isn’t a new phenomenon - nor is action to counter it. A number of international conventions and national laws are already tackling the problem, and some of them - including efforts to repair the ozone layer and the phasing out of a number of toxic chemicals and pesticides - have been very successful. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets call for a decrease in pollution and demand specific actions on excess nutrients. The Paris Climate Agreement is a major step forward in tackling both climate change and air pollution. We need to adapt these models, and scale up what works. We also need to dramatically step up our ambitions.   Although no international agreement explicitly recognizes the right to a healthy environment, many countries around the world have chosen to do so. As of 2015, over 100 countries guaranteed their citizens a right to a healthy environment, with the majority building this into their national constitutions.  

Source: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet , UN environment assembly

3 ways we can solve the air pollution crisis

Air pollution is harming many of us around the world. Many of us are breathing air that is damaging almost every organ in our body . Worse, one of the main causes of air pollution – burning fossil fuels – also causes climate change that’s endangering all of us by heating the planet on which we depend.    

Air pollution is indeed a crisis, but it’s a crisis we can solve – and around the world, people are solving it! Here’s what that looks like.

1. Coal 

Herder and Sheep in Central Java. © Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Burning all fossil fuels is bad, but coal is the worst .  When burnt, it releases more carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) per unit of energy than oil or gas – which means it heats up our planet faster. 

Coal is toxic too. Burning it releases elements like mercury and arsenic, and small particles of soot which contribute to air pollution. When we breathe it in, that soot harms our heart and lungs and even increases our risk of strokes. 

But the worst thing about coal is how widespread it is. Coal provides more than a third of the world’s electricity . That’s more than any other single source! These power plants affect air quality for hundreds of kilometres – and are often placed right in the heart of cities – so countless millions of people get little respite from the pollution these plants cause. 

We desperately need to wean ourselves off coal, and get our power from clean sources like wind, sun and tides. 

Some counties have started. In 2019, coal power had its biggest slump ever recorded ! But we need every country in the world to move much faster towards renewable energy. Greenpeace International has even mapped out how they could go about it .  

the problem and solution of air pollution

Most cars run on oil – petrol and diesel. And just like burning coal, burning oil comes with a huge environmental price tag. Petrol and diesel cars emit CO 2 and other gases which heat our planet. On top of other nasties, the exhaust fumes these cars produce contain Nitrogen Dioxide (NO 2 ) , which is another pollutant that harms our health. 

But there are other ways we can move around, and leave the car behind. 

Cities around the world are waking up to the joys of car-free travel. From pedestrian zones, to proper public infrastructure to comprehensive and affordable public transport, there are so many ways cities can help us go car-free more often. And the benefits are many – from more space and cleaner air to a more active and healthy population.

But for those journeys that still need cars, we should start thinking about cars very differently. Rather than petrol and diesel, we should power cars with electricity. Electric cars are zero- emissions ‘at the pipe’ – the cars themselves don’t emit any exhaust fumes. Almost all their emissions come from their manufacture, and in producing the electricity that powers them. If that electricity is renewable, those emissions are essentially zero. But even in coal-heavy (so carbon-intensive) grid like Poland, it’s still a substantial cut in emissions compared with conventional cars. The pollution savings multiply even more when cars are made smaller – so they use less energy to make and move – and for sharing rather than private ownership, so we can all get by with fewer of them.

3. Community

Break Free Activity in Taiwan. © Ai-Ju Wang / Greenpeace

Air pollution is no match for all of us, working together. All the solutions listed here are already happening around the world because people came together and demanded it. 

Concerns about air pollution made Shenzhen, China electrify their bus fleet. Parents in Belgium mobilised because the air in schools was so dirty. Now, Brussels, its capital city, is banning petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and investing in public transport and cycling infrastructure. And around the world, concerns about the climate impacts of coal are causing governments to look into new ways of getting their power- Turkey has closed five coal power plants in 2020 alone ! 

The solution to air pollution is us; it’s you and me, taking action together. And you can start right now, right here .

Andrew Tobert is Digital Lead of Clean Air Now at Greenpeace Belgium.

Air Pollution Action at Eskom's Megawatt Park in Johannesburg. © Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

Join the movement demanding solutions to the air pollution crisis.

Leave your reply Cancel reply

It doesn't matter at all if we don't wholeheartedly do it, Right?

The world have to change

I love the earth and humanity #collectivewillpower #microcosmtomacrocosm #humanpower

Quiero ayudar y concientizar.

Manage your cookies preferences

Please select which cookies you are willing to store.

These cookies are required for technical reasons so that you can visit our website and use the functions we offer. These cookies are used to recognise you between successive visits and thus provide you with a better experience, storing your consent preferences and the last website visited.

We use tracking and analysis tools to ensure continuous optimisation and demand-oriented design of our website. These cookies will allow us to collect statistical and anonymised data, such as how visitors use our website or which pages are accessed most frequently, to ultimately improve and provide you with a better experience of our website.

In addition to the Performance cookies mentioned above, we may also place in your browser cookies from third-party services (e.g. Facebook or Google) to track the effectiveness of our online marketing strategies and to deliver adverts more relevant to you and your interests. These cookies may also be used to serve advertising to you after you have left our site (retargeting cookies).

Topics we focus on

Cleaner Aviation

Solutions to air pollution

How to improve air quality.

Find out the causes, effects and solutions to air pollution, and how you can contribute to prevent, control and reduce it.

Air pollution from smokestacks

01. Solutions

02. Contribute

03. Definition

05. Effects

06. Prevention

CO2 icon

Air pollution is one of the biggest threats for the environment and affects everyone: humans, animals, crops, cities, forests, aquatic ecosystems...

What causes air pollution? What are the effects? And most importantly, what are the possible solutions to tackle it?

Air pollution solutions

The Solar Impulse Label is granted to innovative solutions to air pollution that meet high standards of sustainability and profitability.

Each solution goes through a strict assessment process performed by independent experts.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Smart Travel Habits

A digital solution using behavioral pychology to nudge users towards climate-friendly travel habits

the problem and solution of air pollution

Q – Series for Clean Air

Providing clean waste gas combustion and waste-heat-to power systems

the problem and solution of air pollution

An eco-friendly and low-cost electric car with integrated photovoltaic cells

the problem and solution of air pollution

Democratization of tree ownership for sustainable development and profit

the problem and solution of air pollution

A new generation of efficient, durable and sustainable tyres for electric vehicles

the problem and solution of air pollution

A paradigm shifting 100% electric motorcycle

the problem and solution of air pollution


A platform to centralize data and provide actionable insights in the construction industry

the problem and solution of air pollution

Upcycling of old diesel buses into clean, efficient buses powered 100% by renewables

the problem and solution of air pollution

FN-NANO® Multifunctional Coatings

A paint coating protecting building surfaces while providing interior air purification

the problem and solution of air pollution

Ultra-clean, electricity generating, biomass cookstove for emerging countries

the problem and solution of air pollution

An on-demand hydrogen fuel enhancement system for the reduction of air pollution from vehicles

the problem and solution of air pollution

Electric Car Charge Roaming

A simple solution for electric car charging

What can you do?

the problem and solution of air pollution

Submit your solution

As a company, you develop an efficient solution and you would like to get the Solar Impulse label

Recommend a company

Do you know an innovative company developing efficient solutions? Let our team know about them

Wind turbines in a field

What is air pollution?

Air pollution can be defined as an alteration of air quality that can be characterized by measurements of chemical, biological or physical pollutants in the air. Therefore, air pollution means the undesirable presence of impurities or the abnormal rise in the proportion of some constituents of the atmosphere. It can be classified in 2 sections: visible and invisible air pollution.

this concerns the quality of ambient air within a radius of a few kilometers

pollution like acid rain, photochemical reactions and degradation of water quality at distances of a few kilometers to a thousand kilometers

depletion of the ozone layer and global warming caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2)

Busy street traffic in NYC

Air pollution causes

Air pollution is caused by the presence in the atmosphere of toxic substances, mainly produced by human activities, even though sometimes it can result from natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, dust storms and wildfires, also depleting the air quality. Anthropogenic air pollution sources are:

Air pollution

It is impossible to describe the whole extent of potential and actual damage caused by all forms of air pollution. But here are the main consequences:

Wet green leaves

On the environment

Air pollution has a major impact on the process of plant evolution by preventing photosynthesis in many cases, with serious consequences for the purification of the air we breathe. It also contributes to the formation of acid rain, atmospheric precipitations in the form of rain, frost, snow or fog, which are released during the combustion of fossil fuels and transformed by contact with water steam in the atmosphere.

Meaford blue ice

Global warming

On top of that, air pollution is a major contributor to global warming and climate change . In fact, the abundance of carbon dioxide in the air is one of the causes of the greenhouse effect. Normally, the presence of greenhouse gases should be beneficial for the planet because they absorb the infra-red radiation produced by the surface of the earth. But the excessive concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is the cause of the recent climate change.

Gas mask

On human health

Our continual exposure to air pollutants is responsible for the deterioration of human health. Air pollution is indeed a significant risk factor for human health conditions, causing allergies, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as lung damage.

Hot air balloon

Air pollution prevention

There are ways to prevent, control and eventually reduce air pollution :

Renewable energy icon

1. Renewable fuel and clean energy production The most basic solution for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal.

Energy efficiency icon

2. Energy conservation and efficiency Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.

Green transportation icon

3. Eco-friendly transportation Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles , and promoting shared mobility (i.e carpooling, and public transports) could reduce air pollution.

Green building icon

4. Green building From planning to demolition, green building aims to create environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition, monitoring air pollution levels has become very important to detect pollution peaks, better control air pollution and eventually improve air quality .

How is air quality measured? With measuring devices using laser-based technologies, chemiluminescence, flame ionization, etc. These devices are, for instance, located close to the traffic, far from the traffic and close to industrial zones. All the collected data are compiled into a value scale, called the Air Quality Index (AQI).

Solar Impulse plane - vertical forest

A challenge, #1000 Solutions to change the world

Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label

A label focused on both the environment and profitability.

For the first time a label proves the economic profitability of solutions that protect the environment. The Solar Impulse Foundation is selecting 1,000 solutions that protect the environment in a profitable way and awarding them the Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions Label.

Collaborating with independent experts and with renowned institutions, the World Alliance proposes to evaluate its members solutions free of charge. The Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label will offer a competitive edge to innovators and a guarantee of quality to solution seekers.

Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label

A chance to be labelled in the 1000 solutions portfolio

Submit your solution now

Air pollution

Feature stories

Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution. Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases and are important sources of morbidity and mortality. 

WHO data show that almost all of the global population (99%) breathe air that exceeds  WHO guideline limits  and contains high levels of  pollutants , with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.

Air quality is closely linked to the earth’s climate and ecosystems globally. Many of the drivers of air pollution (i.e. combustion of fossil fuels) are also sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Policies to reduce air pollution, therefore, offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health, lowering the burden of disease attributable to air pollution, as well as contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.

From smog hanging over cities to smoke inside the home, air pollution poses a major  threat to health  and climate.

Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in both cities and rural areas is causing fine particulate matter which result in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, acute and chronic respiratory diseases.  

Additionally, around 2.4 billion people are exposed to dangerous levels of household air pollution, while using polluting open fires or simple stoves for cooking fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal.

The combined effects of ambient air pollution and household air pollution is associated with 7 million premature deaths annually.

Sources of air pollution are multiple and context specific. The major outdoor pollution sources include residential energy for cooking and heating, vehicles, power generation, agriculture/waste incineration, and industry. Policies and investments that support sustainable land use, cleaner household energy and transport, energy-efficient housing, power generation, industry, and better municipal waste management can effectively reduce key sources of ambient air pollution.

WHO promotes interventions and initiatives for healthy sectoral policies (including energy, transport, housing, urban development and electrification of health-care facilities), addressing key risks to health from air pollution indoors and outdoors, and contributing to achieving health co-benefits from climate change mitigation policies. 

WHO provides technical support to WHO’s Member States in the development of normative guidance, tools and provision of authoritative advice on health issues related to air pollution and its sources.

WHO monitors and reports on global trends and changes in health outcomes associated with actions taken to address air pollution at the national, regional and global levels.

WHO has also developed and implemented a strategy for raising awareness on the risk of air pollution, as well as available solutions that can be implemented to mitigate the risks of exposure to air pollution. Through digital outreach and partnerships, WHO has helped enrich the value proposition of addressing air pollution for health and environment ministries, city governments and other stakeholders from sectors with significant emissions. 

Household air pollution

Integrating health in urban and territorial planning: the directory

Close to one billion people globally are served by health-care facilities with no electricity access or with unreliable electricity

Taking the prescribed action: The healthcare providers who protect our children's present are riding to protect their future

Building climate resilient health services with sustainable energy

WHO trains health workers in Ghana on air pollution and health

Latest publications

Risk communication of ambient air pollution in the WHO European Region: review of air quality indexes and lessons learned

Risk communication of ambient air pollution in the WHO European Region: review of air quality indexes...

This report provides an overview of air quality indexes used in 37 Member States of the WHO European Region and some observations/suggestions for future...

Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities: executive summary 

Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities: executive summary 

Executive SummaryThe publication provides a comprehensive update on the status and key actions needed for providing reliable, modern energy to health-care...

Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities

Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities

Full ReportThe publication provides a comprehensive update on the status and key actions needed for providing reliable, modern energy to health-care...

WHO Urban Health Initiative in Accra, Ghana: summary of project results

WHO Urban Health Initiative in Accra, Ghana: summary of project results

Ambient and household air pollution are a major cause of death and disease globally. This public health threat is being increased due to the rapid urbanization...

Urban Health Directory

The directory is an online repository of more than 100 open access resources and tools that provide information on the importance of planning and designing...

thumbnail call to action

Call to Action to increase climate resilience of health-care facilities & air quality through sustainable...

Cover_HEART Policy Brief Template

Policy Brief Template - Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool (HEART)

This document contains suggestions for content to be included in a two to four page policy brief covering the main messages developed in a national report...

cover SDG7 report 2022

Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2022

This 2022 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report assesses achievements in the global quest for universal access to affordable, reliable,...

Accelerating access to electricity in health-care facilities

Estimating the morbidity from air pollution and its economic costs

Identifying solutions for countries

Synthesizing evidence and knowledge on air pollution

Launch of WHO's Household Energy Policy Repository

What are the WHO Air quality guidelines?

Transitioning to cleaner cooking

Actionables for a healthy recovery from COVID-19


the problem and solution of air pollution

500 actions to take, including 82 measures to reduce both outdoor and indoor air pollution that can help prevent 7 million premature deaths worldwide

SDG7 Tracking Progress Report 2020

Key findings of the tracking SGDs 7

Solutions for Air Pollution, updated 2021

Solutions for Air Pollution

Household air pollution

WHO's Science in 5 on COVID-19 - Air pollution & COVID-19 - 23 October 2020

the problem and solution of air pollution

WHO’s Science in 5 : Air pollution & COVID-19 - 1 October 2021

thumbnail video clean cooking

HEPA - Accelerating Access to Clean Cooking

thumbnail video health care facilities

HEPA: Accelerating Access to Electricity in Health-Care Facilities

COP 27: Health and Energy Platform of Action (HEPA): Tackling the health-energy-climate nexus through increased capacity, finance and actions on the ground

COP27 High-Level Event: Energizing health: accelerating electricity access in health-care facilities

2nd Meeting of the High-Level Coalition on Health and Energy

SDG 11.6.2 Working Group: Final Meeting

clean transport

Related health topics

Climate change

Noncommunicable diseases

Earth Eclipse

5 Brilliant Solutions to Air Pollution

5 Brilliant Solutions to Air Pollution

A variety of measures has been undertaken or proposed and instituted to curb the effects of air pollution. Solving the air pollution problem requires joint effort and takes different ways from one region to another. For example, it primarily requires behavior change and institutionalization of measures that can considerably ameliorate the situation in the short-term and the long-term. Ordinarily, the solutions to air pollution have focused on establishing a mix of technological solutions, regulations and policies, and encouraging behavioral change.

Let’s have a look at some of the effective solutions to air pollution.

1. Cleaning Smokestacks and Exhaust Pipes

The leading sources of air pollution are power plants, factories, and vehicles. They constantly emit fumes and gaseous waste into the atmosphere. In power plants and manufacturing industries, electrostatic smoke precipitators that use static electricity to trap soot and dust from the gaseous waste leaving the smokestacks is a significant technological cleaning measure which can be used to control air pollution.

Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD), commonly referred to as scrubbing, is as well another means of providing a technical solution to Sulfur Oxide emissions. Scrubbing is a process that chemically eliminates the sulfur oxide gasses leaving the smokestacks. Power plans can also be retrofitted with carbon capturing technologies that trap emitted carbon dioxide.

Vehicles with gasoline powered engines are fitted with catalytic converters on the exhaust pipe to reduce the exhaust gas emissions. Constant improvements to gasoline that combusts cleaner and production of more energy efficient cars have been an additional strategy for reducing vehicle emissions. All these processes and methods are called emission reduction strategies.

2. Laws and Regulations

Some national and state or international policies can be used to control air pollution. Legislation and regulations always offer a fantastic measure for tackling the air pollution menace. Many cities and countries that were once heavily polluted have substantially attained clean air mainly due to the institutionalization of anti-pollution laws.

In England, for instance, following the 1952 smog tragedy that claimed thousands of lives in London, the government launched its Clean Air Act of 1956 which placed limits on burning coal and required industries to build higher smokestacks. In the United States, a series of Clean Air Acts have been passed to curb air pollution.

International cooperation and organizations such as the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and environmental programs have also devised clean air acts and directives to reduce air pollution. Examples include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Acts . A number of states and governing actions or policies can also be undertaken to reduce emissions. Quality air control protocols and standards such as the installation of pollution control devices or buying emission allowance can be used effectively as execution strategies for reducing the adverse effects of air pollution.

3. Use of Renewable or Green Energy Sources

Fossil fuel and coal are the main contributors to air pollutio n. Therefore, opting for alternative or renewable energy sources to produce power presents a practical solution to air pollution. Alternative energy sources include wind energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, and hydro-power. If people can harness a variety of these energy sources instead of relying on fossil fuels or coal energy, air pollution can reduce more than threefold.

Natural gas, fuel cells, and batteries can as well substitute the use of fossil fuels as cleaner energy sources. Still, it is important to evaluate correctly some of these alternative energy sources because aside from their benefits, some of them come with different environmental and economic costs. Essentially, investing more in renewable and sustainable energy sources reduces pollution at the same time protects the future.

4. Individual Level Prevention Methods

Multifarious ways can be used at the individual level to reduce or prevent air pollution. Foremost, individuals who are aware of the causes and effects of pollution can encourage family, friends, or colleagues to use the bus, train or bike when moving from one place to another. For shorter distances, it is even better just to walk or ride a bike. By doing so, there will be lesser vehicles on the road and as such, less emission.

Energy conservation by using energy wisely is also a viable individual measure for reducing air pollution. The logic here is that high amounts of fossil fuels are burned to produce the energy used for cooking, heating, or lighting. In this sense, saving energy cuts down air pollution. Another measure is re-using some of the utilities we depend on such as plastic bags, papers, or bottles because their production creates loads of pollution.

5. Raising Awareness Through Campaigns and Advocacy

As much as anti-pollution laws are established and technological advancements progressively aim at minimizing air pollution, it is not just enough. Awareness creation is the number one factor to consider because it will make people realize and understand the sources and effects of air pollution. From this point, it makes it easier for people to take personal or collective initiatives to reduce air pollution.

As previously witnessed, it takes serious tragedies to occur like the Chernobyl catastrophe for actions to be taken. Nevertheless, raising awareness through campaigns and advocacy can significantly address such situations from happening in the first place. It can simply be done through an educative process that helps people realize the causes and effects of air pollution . In any case, people contribute to air pollution in multiple ways without even knowing. By raising awareness, it can help minimize the causes of air pollution.

Photo by: pixabay

Get focused newsletters especially designed to be concise and easy to digest

What are the Biggest Causes and Effects of Air Pollution?

What are the Biggest 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

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. 

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. 

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. 

Heat Waves and Wildfires

Heat waves 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?

About the Author

the problem and solution of air pollution

Fast Fashion and Its Environmental Impact

10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing

10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing

15 Most Polluted Cities in the World

15 Most Polluted Cities in the World

Hand-picked stories once a fortnight. We promise, no spam!

Boost this article By donating us $100, $50 or subscribe to Boosting $10/month – we can get this article and others in front of tens of thousands of specially targeted readers. This targeted Boosting – helps us to reach wider audiences – aiming to convince the unconvinced, to inform the uninformed, to enlighten the dogmatic.

Green Coast

35 Ways to Reduce Air Pollution and Boost Air Quality for All

Air pollution is a serious health and environmental issue, but these solutions show it’s not impossible to tackle.

' src=

Green Coast is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page . Learn more .

ways to reduce air pollution

Air pollution affects almost every person on earth , and currently shows no signs of abating. A wide range of gaseous and particulate pollutants increasingly contaminates the air we breathe, causing deaths, chronic health problems, and environmental damage.

But the situation is not hopeless; we can do something about air pollution and safeguard clean air for all. In this article, we share 35 ways to reduce air pollution, which covers all its major sources.

35 ways to reduce air pollution

There is no single way to eliminate pollution in the air we breathe, but a combination of technologies and initiatives can drive down emissions of air pollution for sustained improvements in air quality. Here are 35 of the most effective ways to reduce air pollution:

1. Active monitoring of air quality

One of the first steps for tackling the problem of air pollution is monitoring the level of pollution in the air. Authorities can measure air quality using a range of advanced photochemical and optical sensor systems and multi-pollutant monitoring devices. Data collected can then analyze absolute levels and trends in air pollution in a specific area.

air quality monitoring station

Monitoring air pollution has the following benefits:

2. Increase indoor ventilation

Ventilation is one of the simplest solutions for improving the quality of indoor air. In lesser economically developed countries, burning solid fuel and paraffin for heating, lighting, and cooking contributes to indoor air that is laden with harmful particulates and chemicals. Breathing polluted indoor air damages the lungs and long-term health.

Building controls are critical to ensuring that buildings have an adequate level of ventilation. Solutions like windows, vents, and extraction fans mean that damaging particulate pollution cannot saturate room air. Homeowners should retrofit spot and dilution ventilation in properties that lack ventilation to reduce health risks.

3. Use VOC-free building materials and furnishings

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful substances that are off-gassed from a range of domestic building materials, paints, varnishes, and furnishings. Their prevalence means that they can build up in indoor environments and cause health problems.

Governments have sought to limit the VOC levels of indoor air by setting limits on the levels of VOCs in a wide range of products. The use of low-emitting building materials like insulation makes a significant difference in the impact of VOC emissions with long-term improvements in air quality.

4. Plant trees

Many environmentalists believe trees should be on the frontline of the battle against air pollution. Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation can capture pollutants and improve air quality, particularly in urban and industrial areas.

tree in a pot ready for planting

Trees form a useful barrier against localized pollution sources, removing tiny particles and chemical pollutants from the air via the stomata on their leaf surfaces . Health professionals have found that trees and vegetation in residential areas may contribute to lowering asthma rates in young children.

However, the right kinds of trees must be planted. London planes, poplars, and other tree species emit high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Beneficial trees include conifers, silver birch, yew, and elder trees.

5. House plants

Plants could contribute to controlling indoor air pollution. The 1989 NASA Clean Air Study investigated the air-purifying properties of a wide range of house plants. Not only did many plant species reduce carbon dioxide and increase room oxygenation, but they also can remove chemicals that include formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from room air.

Helpful plant species tested by NASA include:

The study found that these plants cannot control indoor air pollution by themselves but supported a beneficial reduction in the level of harmful chemicals when tested in conjunction with a carbon air filter.

6. Prevent wildfires

Wildfires are a key source of air pollution and long-lasting environmental damage in the areas affected by them. Prevention of wildfires is the most effective way to eliminate this source of air pollution.

a car on a road with forest wildfire on the background

Authorities and the public can use several strategies to prevent wildfires that include:

7. Air scrubbing technology

Air scrubbers are air purification systems that are used in HVAC systems and industrial settings. These powerful devices are engineered to remove particulates from the air, reducing pollution and making the air breathable. An installed air scrubber uses moisture and condensation (wet air scrubber) or powered filtration (dry air scrubber) to filter the air that enters the scrubber.

How effective are air scrubbers?

Air scrubbers can remove odor and particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter from the air. Wet air scrubbers and scrubbers that contain special media like activated carbon are effective at reducing the levels of air pollution in exhaust air from industrial processes.

8. Residential air cleaners

Indoor air pollution is one of the largest contributors to morbidity and mortality from air pollution. One of the best ways to reduce air pollution indoors is to use an air cleaner. Residential air cleaners use a range of technologies to reduce or remove pollutants from room air, reducing exposure to respiratory allergens and irritants. Many solutions are filter technologies and can be installed with home furnaces or HVAC systems.

Air purifier next to an indoor plant

Domestic air cleaners vary significantly in their efficiency of air cleaning and effectiveness . Certified and rated devices can remove particulates and other pollutants from the air measured in a lab. The clean air delivery rate (CADR), measures the rate of delivery of acceptable cleaned air.

9. Electrostatic precipitators

Electrostatic precipitators also offer ways to reduce air pollution. These are filter-free devices that are used in industries that use fossil fuels to remove particle pollution from the air in smokestacks. They are extremely efficient at removing carbon particulates like soot, ashes, and other combustion by-products, removing up to 99% of particulates that are less than 1 micrometer in size.

These precipitators use an electrical current to generate static electricity that ionizes and attracts charged particles to electrodes, removing them from the air. The particles then pass between charged and uncharged components, finally ending up in a hopper where they can be cleaned out.

10. Baghouses

Baghouses are devices that are used to control air pollution in industrial settings, and are another of the more effective ways to reduce air pollution. They comprise a range of tubes, envelopes, and fabric filter cartridges that capture dust, dirt, and particulates from the exhaust air of a factory or industrial facility.

As waste air moves through the baghouse , removed solid material builds up as a dust cake on the insides of the baghouse.

Once the baghouse is filled with pollution, personnel can clean using reverse air, the shaker method, or a pulse jet. This short video explains the basics of baghouses:

11. Catalytic converters

Catalytic converters are modular components that attach to the exhaust system of a vehicle. Without going into the nitty-gritty, explained very basically – catalytic converters filter out pollutants and harmful byproducts from the exhaust fumes, and burn them up.

These converters can convert over 90% of the carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons emitted by vehicles. In the petrochemical industry, platinum-based catalysts reduce the energy requirements and pollution generated by the production of gasoline.

12. Particulate filters for diesel vehicles

Burning diesel can be particularly dirty. The soot and particulates in the exhaust from diesel engines are notable contributors to air pollution. In the UK, manufacturers must fit diesel vehicles with diesel particulate filters (DPFs), but unfortunately – they are not a requirement in the USA.

These devices trap and store the particulates in diesel exhaust so they can’t pollute the air. Once installed, it is illegal to remove a DPF.

DPFs eventually become filled and can cause engine problems if obstructed. To prevent this, the filters regenerate by burning off the excess soot. This regeneration can be passive, when the engine is running at high temperatures, or active, with the injection of fuel to drive the burning process.

13. Vehicle particle suction

Many people underestimate tires and vehicle breaking as a source of air pollution. The particles generated by tires rubbing against tarmac may be as much as 1,000 times more polluting than those from exhaust emissions.

This is a particular problem for electric vehicles as their large batteries make them heavier than internal combustion engine vehicles.

Novel devices are being designed and fitted to vehicles like cars, lorries, and trains to address this specific type of fine particle pollution. An example is AMIC ceramic filter technology. It uses an electronic suction and filtration system to retain the fine particles and prevent their dispersal into the air. This universal technology works in all conditions and can be retrofitted to any vehicle.

14. City diesel

Using city diesel is one of the lesser-utilized ways to reduce air pollution, but is very effective. City diesel is a special diesel formulation that has extremely low sulfur levels and reduced particle emissions. City diesel was developed in Sweden, but versions of this fuel are now available in urban areas across the world.

This low-emission diesel reduces particle emissions by up to 84% depending on the vehicle type, engine specs, and particulate type. Low-sulfur diesel also reduces exhaust levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons by supporting catalytic converter performance.

15. Emissions testing for vehicles

Direct monitoring of the emissions of individual vehicles can also help to curb air pollution. As vehicles age , their mechanical parts wear and engine performance becomes less efficient leading to an increase in the air pollution they emit.

a black car with an emission testing system

As emissions tests are undertaken when vehicles are stationary, they may not reflect the emissions produced when the vehicles are on the road. However, the tests help to identify the most polluting vehicles and keep drivers mindful of the importance of air pollution.

16. LPG and CNG for vehicles

In congested urban environments, many public transport and transport and logistics providers are turning to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to reduce emissions. These fuels have a favorable emissions profile for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) compared to gasoline and some diesel vehicles.

The methane emissions of LPG and CNG are higher than other fuels but they deliver an immediate reduction in particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to negligible levels. LPG is a preferred fuel for the Clean Air Zones implemented in cities like London and Birmingham, UK.

17. Burning cleaner fuels

Burning fuels that burn more efficiently and thoroughly is one of the most effective ways to reduce air pollution, as these leave fewer soot particles or other pollutants in the air. For example, in 2021, the UK government implemented restrictions on burning bituminous coal and green wood, with approved fuels carrying a ‘Ready to burn’ logo.

By burning kiln-dried wood, approved coal, and manufactured solid fuel like wood pellets in domestic stoves homeowners can reduce their levels of sulfur and smoke emissions. An added benefit is a reduction in the production of the tar-like combustion by-product creosote, which can build up on chimneys and cause fires.

burning wood pellets

18. Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) are being embraced as a solution not only for air pollution but also reductions in greenhouse gasses. The assertion that EVs improve air quality makes sense, especially in urban areas, as they run on electricity and do not produce exhaust.

A transition to a greater proportion of these vehicles on the roads would lead to lower air pollution, in particular:

Many cities are embracing EV technology as it can significantly reduce air pollution. Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, intends to only sell EVs from 2030 onwards.

19. Hire cars

Car sharing strategies like hiring cars, reduced the number of cars people own and have on the road. By using car-sharing services, individuals can reduce the amount of petroleum that is burned leading to air that is less polluted by exhaust fumes.

Hire cars also make it less likely that people will use a car for short trips whereas walking or cycling can be just as quick. These short journeys are the most polluting as the car gets moving from a cold start and the catalytic converter is not immediately functional.

A reduction in the number of cars would also reduce the heavy pollution generated by car manufacturers. Hire companies can invest in better quality, more efficient vehicles, while users can save on the expense of running a car.

20. Low-emission zones

In many places, municipal authorities have been establishing low emission zones (LEZs) or environment zones which only allow the cleanest vehicles to travel through them. Authorities monitor vehicles in the zones using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). Vehicles that are prohibited receive a fixed penalty notice if they travel through these zones.

London, UK has led the way in implementing LEZs , and now ULEZ. They have been controversial as the fines are high and motorists and businesses have complained about the accessibility of certain parts of the city. Authorities have continued with the zones, advising vehicle owners to replace or modify their vehicles to more compliant models. This video explains how it works:

21. Dust collectors

Dust collectors are used in industrial settings to capture the dust in exhaust air. These are essential for protecting human health and complying with government health and safety legislation. Only dust collectors that meet stringent safety standards may be used.

Dust collectors suck contaminated air from locations where manufacturing processes take place. The air passes through a system of separators and filters which extract the dust and release clean air. Manufacturers must regularly check the concentration of particles in the cleaned air.

22. Treat biofuels with caution

Biofuels receive heavy subsidies and are touted as sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. However, biodiesel and other biofuels can generate noxious forms of air pollution. Biofuels can pollute the air at every stage of their production and use. For example:

23. Low-emitting heaters and stoves

Inefficient cooking practices create indoor air pollution that contributes to up to 4 million deaths per year globally. Many poor people have no choice but to use dung, waste, or unseasoned firewood with inefficient heaters and stoves.

Engineers and designers have developed innovative low-cost stove designs that increase the efficiency of fuels and reduce particulate levels. Novel biomass stoves are engineered to burn the fuel more efficiently using insulated combustion chambers and fans. A great example of an improved stove design is the rocket stove which is in use across the world:

24. Cycling

Cycling as an alternative to driving reduces air pollution because it takes cars off the road, with an immediate reduction in the amount of air pollution generated. As muscle-powered or electric personal transport, there is no burning or fuel to generate the 1.3 billion cubic yards of air pollution each car generates across its lifespan.

Manufacturing bicycles and e-bikes are also less polluting than cars. Just painting cars adds more than 40 million pounds of pollution to the air each year. And despite not being enclosed in a vehicle, cyclists are less exposed to air pollution than drivers when they travel on the roads.

25. Walking

Short car journeys are the most polluting . They are simply not long enough to warm up the engine so it can burn fuel efficiently and the catalytic converter can operate optimally. Car journeys that are under five miles can emit more than double the pollution produced by a long drive.

Any transport method that reduces shorter journeys will positively impact air pollution levels. The availability and convenience of cars make it easy to jump in one to make even the quickest journey. By opting to walk rather than drive, you can cut these polluting journeys out, leading to lower levels of air pollution in local communities and an improvement in your health.

26. Public transport

Public transport is also a sustainable and less polluting alternative to driving, taking cars off the road and reducing the overall level of air pollution generated by traffic. Transportation is one of the biggest causes of air pollution globally and the main cause of air pollution in cities.

metro station

Switching to public transportation in urban areas can produce significant improvements in air quality, especially if buses use LPG or CNG, or biodiesel fuel. Better public transport could also save up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 , a 45% reduction in emissions.

In the world’s poorest nations, better public transportation and transport infrastructure could also deliver improvements in air pollution. By improving roads, making them safer, and providing buses and trains that use low-cost, clean fuel, these countries can ease the burden of polluted air in their densely populated urban areas.

27. Reduce aviation sector emissions

The jet engines of aircraft use the most volatile petroleum fuels (kerosene) that burn efficiently, but the aviation sector is still a notable polluter. Not only do airplanes release nitrogen oxide and PM 2.5 particulates in their exhaust, but surface traffic and airport operations also have high air pollution emissions. Nitrogen oxide emissions in flight can also damage the ozone layer.

Emissions standards set by aviation industry bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) can help to curb rising emissions from this sector. Implementing technologies like selective catalytic reduction and exhaust gas recirculation also reduce the amount of pollution emitted by planes.

Other strategies can contribute to lowering the levels of pollution produced by the aviation sector:

28. Tackling air pollution from ships

Shipping is a big polluter because of the dirty fuel used by many vessels. ‘Bunker fuel’ , the fuel used by the maritime sector, is a thick black sulfur-rich oil that releases large amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide when it is burnt.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) now requires all shipping fuel to limit sulfur levels to a maximum of 0.5 percent sulfur, from existing limits of 3.5 percent or more. Health authorities have modeled that this capping of sulfur levels could prevent as many as 150,000 premature deaths and over 7 million childhood asthma cases across the world each year.

29. Limit open burning

Many people use open burning for recreation or to burn garden waste. However, indiscriminate open burning releases high levels of gaseous and particulate air pollution, which can be very harmful to health in densely populated areas.

burning dry wood on ground

Burning trash is illegal in most places, and many municipalities have taken steps to limit the timing or frequency of open burning in their communities. Many households switch to using a gas-fuelled fire pit for recreational fires or composting garden waste rather than burning it.

30. Reduce landfill use

Dumped waste in landfills releases copious volumes of harmful gasses and obnoxious odors as it decomposes. Reducing dependence on landfills for waste management can help to limit the emissions levels from these sites and prevent landfill from rapidly increasing in number and size.

Recycling and other strategies that divert municipal waste from landfill will reduce the gaseous and particulate emissions from them. Some countries have also sought to clean up existing landfill sites using techniques like capping, air sparging, and the installation of pump and treat systems to reduce their emissions.

31. Implement a layering strategy for landfills

The indiscriminate pouring of waste into landfills leads to uncontrolled decomposition and the development of pockets of methane and other harmful gasses which gradually dissipate into the atmosphere. But even if landfill use cannot be immediately curbed, landfills can be made more sanitary and structured, minimizing emissions and other environmental harms.

Sanitary landfill engineering uses layering to develop landfill sites that prevent the escape of harmful gasses and chemicals. Layered landfills include lining layers of clay and plastic along with controlled drainage and gas collection. Site personnel actively monitor the landfill to ensure that polluting gasses do not escape.

32. Buy locally produced products

People could reduce the air pollution generated by ground, air, and sea by choosing to purchase products and products that have been grown, prepared, and manufactured locally. A reduction in demand for imported goods means that airplanes, trains, trucks, and shipping make fewer polluting journeys.

Opting for local seasonal produce and goods that are made domestically reduces freight mileage, and pressure on supply chains and strengthens the local economy too.

leaf vegetables on brown wooden stand

33. Repair, recycle and reuse

Manufacturing is a big polluter, so anything individuals can do to repair, recycle, and reuse items will reduce the need for these polluting industrial processes. This is known as the circular economy . By prolonging the useful life of individual items and recycling or repurposing their components at the end of their usable life, fewer raw materials need to be procured and processed.

34. Reduce household energy consumption

Most countries rely on burning coal, natural gas, or oil to maintain a sustained electricity supply. Power plants that burn fuel, waste, or wood pellets release exhaust gasses into the atmosphere which include sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions.

Over the last 25 years power plants have decreased emissions of these harmful gasses, but, according to the Environmental Protection Agency , levels have risen since 2020. One way to reduce air pollution from power plants is to minimize household energy consumption. Simple ways to cut down on domestic electricity use include:

35. Use renewable energy sources where possible

Fossil fuels provide 80% of the world’s energy, but efforts to include more renewable energy sources could reduce their use and the levels of air pollution that are generated by them. Energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy, do not require combustion and do not directly emit air pollutants.

In conclusion

As you can see, there are so many ways to reduce air pollution, ranging from industrial components to simple behavioral changes. Polluted, poisoned air does not have to be the future of our planet. However, it will require innovation, investment, and personal effort to ensure that there is clean air for all.

Articles you might also like

What is Soil Pollution: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

What is Soil Pollution: Causes, Effects, and Prevention

What is Groundwater Pollution, and How Can it be Prevented?

What is Groundwater Pollution, and How Can it be Prevented?

The Most Common Diseases Caused by Water Pollution 

The Most Common Diseases Caused by Water Pollution 

20 Shocking Facts About Water Pollution

20 Shocking Facts About Water Pollution

30 Interesting Facts About Air Pollution Everyone Needs to Know

30 Interesting Facts About Air Pollution Everyone Needs to Know

25+ Ways to Protect Forests and Fight Climate Changes

25+ Ways to Protect Forests and Fight Climate Changes

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Actions You Can Take to Reduce Air Pollution

Follow these tips every day to reduce pollution:.

On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

You can also take steps to minimize your exposure to air pollution and protection your health.

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

34 Causes, Effects and Solutions for Air Pollution

Air pollution: causes, effects & solutions.

causes, effects and solutions for air pollution

Air pollution may have negative impacts on humans in the form of allergies, diseases or even death.

Please enable JavaScript

Audio Lesson

Types of air pollution, carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (vocs), particulate matter, persistent free radicals, toxic metals, chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs), radioactive material, causes of air pollution, radioactive decay, marine vessels, waste deposition in landfills, military sources, fossil fuels, agriculture, private households.

Food that would still be good for consumption purposes is often disposed of in the garbage if it has minor blemishes.

Effects of Air Pollution

According to the World Health Organization , 7 million people die from air pollution each year.

Cardiovascular diseases

For instance, a construction worker who works in an environment with high levels of dust and doesn’t use protection masks or other mitigating devices may have a high probability for strokes and other cardiovascular diseases since he is inhaling large amounts of harmful substances on a daily basis.

Lung diseases

The exposure to contaminated air is considered to be able to affect the human DNA structure and thus to cause health issues like cancer or other diseases.

Effects on the central nervous system

Global warming.

Global warming is one of the biggest challenges to humanity.

Depletion of the ozone layer

These substances are known to contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer .

Effects on animals

Effects on agriculture.

For example, crop yields could be adversely affected by high concentration of harmful chemicals in the air.

Economic effects

Solutions to the air pollution problem, change in energy consumption behavior, reduce material consumption, avoid the use of cars.

However, for people living in areas with good public transport infrastructure, a switch from cars to public transport should not be a big deal at all.

Reuse and recycle


This way, a useless commodity can be turned into income through the production of energy out of plants.

Use of energy-efficient devices

Convince others.

However, not only our own behavior makes a difference, we also have to convince other people that it is worth to reduce their energy demand.

Air pollution is a serious problem in our nowadays society. It is caused by our industries but also by our own daily behavior.

About the author

Affiliate Disclosure

If(typeof ez_ad_units='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[300,250],'environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2','ezslot_10',611,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2-0'); if(typeof ez_ad_units='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[300,250],'environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2','ezslot_11',611,'0','1'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2-0_1'); if(typeof ez_ad_units='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[300,250],'environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2','ezslot_12',611,'0','2'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2-0_2'); if(typeof ez_ad_units='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[300,250],'environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2','ezslot_13',611,'0','3'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-environmental_conscience_com-large-billboard-2-0_3'); .large-billboard-2-multi-611{border:noneimportant;display:blockimportant;float:noneimportant;line-height:0;margin-bottom:3pximportant;margin-left:autoimportant;margin-right:autoimportant;margin-top:3pximportant;max-width:100%important;min-height:250px;min-width:300px;padding:0;text-align:centerimportant} disclaimer, pin it on pinterest.

Illustration of a question mark that links to the Climate Kids Big Questions menu.

What Causes Air Pollution?

the problem and solution of air pollution

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 problem and solution of air pollution

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 problem and solution of air pollution

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 problem and solution of air pollution

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 problem and solution of air pollution

Air Pollution: A Global Problem

Developing technologies to plan for high-pollution days

Overlooking houses in Jaipur, India

Air pollution is a major global environmental risk to our health and food security. It is estimated to cause about 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide and destroys enough crops to feed millions of people every year.

I durst not laugh for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.

- William Shakespeare

Health officials, the general public and farmers need advance notice when dangerous air quality levels are on the rise. Researchers and engineers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in collaboration with other agencies, are dedicated to developing new technologies that directly help decision-makers plan for high-pollution days.

This work allows meteorologists and local planners to:

Air pollution is a global problem

An Advanced Air-Quality Forecasting System

Current air-quality forecasts are limited. They provide a simple single-value prediction and do not specify the uncertainty associated with the prediction. They also simplistically tell whether ozone levels will be high or low. Much more detail in the forecast is needed, and, with funding from NASA, NCAR and its partners are developing a new capability to produce 48-hour detailed forecasts of ground level ozone and fine particulate matter. 

NCAR has more than two decades of experience in developing advanced community models that are widely used for air quality prediction and research.

This new forecasting capability combines satellite and in situ observations with state-of-the-art modeling and will generate air quality forecasts in fine detail. Just as a weather forecast, for example, might warn of an 80% chance of rain in the afternoon, new air quality forecasts might warn of an 80% chance of high ozone levels during certain times of the day. Such improved forecasts will significantly enhance the decision-making activity in air quality management. This system is being set up over the USA but can be easily applied to any part of the world.

Projection of Future Air Quality

Fine particulate matter predictions over the US.

To quantify future changes in air quality due to changes in future climate and human activities, NCAR has developed a global and regional climate model coupled with chemistry. These models can be used to examine the impact of different emission scenarios on the air quality of any region of the world. They have been used to predict changes in air quality over the USA and India as far out as mid-century (2050).

The model results show that Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 anthropogenic emission scenario can improve the air quality in the USA but not in India.

Quantifying Cross-Border Transport of Pollutants

Maximum daily average 8-hour surface ozone over South Asia for the present day (1995-2004, left) and future (2045-2054, right) RCP 8.5 scenarios.

Depending on the lifetime of the particulate, air pollutants can be transported by atmospheric winds from one country to another. Thus, it becomes very important to quantify the contribution of such cross-border transport while designing air pollution mitigation strategies. 

NCAR has developed a tagged tracer technique to quantify the cross-border contribution to both gaseous (carbon monoxide, CO) and aerosol (black carbon, BC) pollutants. Using this technique, the cross-border transport is estimated to contribute up to 30% to wintertime CO pollution but less than 5% to BC pollution in India, indicating that India needs to partner with neighboring countries to reduce carbon monoxide pollution. However, it also reveals that the country can control black carbon pollution.

Working to develop new technologies that directly help decision-makers plan for high-pollution days.

Quantifying Regional Transport of Pollutants

Just like the cross-border transport, it is also important to quantify the contribution of regional transport (defined as emissions from all regions of the country excluding that region) to air quality of a region of the country in order to design mitigation strategies. The contribution of regional transport to CO and BC pollution in different regions of South Asia has been quantified using the tagged tracer technique.

Assessing Societal Impacts of Air Pollution

NCAR and its partners have coupled the chemistry transport models with agricultural production and population datasets to assess the impacts of air pollution on human health and crops. For the Indian region, it has been estimated that surface ozone pollution destroys enough food to feed about 94 million people and along with fine particulate matter can lead to about 0.9 million premature deaths every year. The economic damage associated with the health and crop impacts of air pollution in India are estimated to be more than 2 billion USD.

Improving Emission Estimates

Percentage contributions of Indian emissions (left) and cross-border transport (right) to wintertime CO pollution in India.

Current global and regional bottom-up emission estimates are available to assess the effect of human activities on air quality. However these emission estimates are highly uncertain over some regions of the world. To reduce uncertainty in these emission estimates, NCAR has developed inverse modeling algorithms that combine chemistry transport models with in situ and satellite observations of pollutants to constrain the emissions.

Recent News

FastEddy® modeled dispersion flow over a city.

RAL’s Super-Efficient, GPU-Enabled Microscale Model FastEddy® is now Open Source!

HPC 2022 award for fasteddy - Jeremy Sauer

FastEddy® wins HPCwire 2022 Award

the problem and solution of air pollution

Cover courtesy of ATCA Bulletin

Global Weather Notification System published in ATCA Bulletin

Helicopter doing a water drop on a wildfire

RAL's Wildfire Modeling Team wins the 2021 HPC Innovation Award

A photograph of Portland downtown with rolling fog and autumn foliage in shining sunrise and colorful clouds

Fog Forecasting to Avoid Delays & Accidents

Haiqing Soong

WRF-Hydro® Community Spotlight | Haiqing Soong

the problem and solution of air pollution

Results from the First Wave of a Three-Wave U.S. National Survey

the problem and solution of air pollution

Advancing South America's High-Resolution Modeling System


WRF-Hydro® Community Spotlight | Dr. Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela

drone over city with winds

Drone over a cityscape

Pioneering better forecasting for UAV operations

Saving Earth | Encyclopedia Britannica

The Pollution Problem

the problem and solution of air pollution

Pollution , also called environmental pollution , the addition of any substance ( solid , liquid , or gas ) or any form of energy (such as heat , sound, or radioactivity ) to the environment at a rate faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form. The major kinds of pollution, usually classified by environment, are air pollution , water pollution , and land pollution . Modern society is also concerned about specific types of pollutants, such as noise pollution , light pollution , and plastic pollution . Pollution of all kinds can have negative effects on the environment and wildlife and often impacts human health and well-being.

different types of pollution

History of pollution

Although environmental pollution can be caused by natural events such as forest fires and active volcanoes , use of the word pollution generally implies that the contaminants have an anthropogenic source—that is, a source created by human activities. Pollution has accompanied humankind ever since groups of people first congregated and remained for a long time in any one place. Indeed, ancient human settlements are frequently recognized by their wastes— shell mounds and rubble heaps, for instance. Pollution was not a serious problem as long as there was enough space available for each individual or group. However, with the establishment of permanent settlements by great numbers of people, pollution became a problem, and it has remained one ever since.

By the middle of the 20th century, an awareness of the need to protect air, water, and land environments from pollution had developed among the general public.

Cities of ancient times were often noxious places, fouled by human wastes and debris. Beginning about 1000 CE, the use of coal for fuel caused considerable air pollution , and the conversion of coal to coke for iron smelting beginning in the 17th century exacerbated the problem. In Europe, from the Middle Ages well into the early modern era, unsanitary urban conditions favoured the outbreak of population-decimating epidemics of disease, from plague to cholera and typhoid fever . Through the 19th century, water and air pollution and the accumulation of solid wastes were largely problems of congested urban areas. But, with the rapid spread of industrialization and the growth of the human population to unprecedented levels, pollution became a universal problem.

By the middle of the 20th century, an awareness of the need to protect air, water, and land environments from pollution had developed among the general public. In particular, the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson ’s book Silent Spring focused attention on environmental damage caused by improper use of pesticides such as DDT and other persistent chemicals that accumulate in the food chain and disrupt the natural balance of ecosystems on a wide scale. In response, major pieces of environmental legislation, such as the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Clean Water Act (1972; United States), were passed in many countries to control and mitigate environmental pollution.

Pollution control

The presence of environmental pollution raises the issue of pollution control . Great efforts are made to limit the release of harmful substances into the environment through air pollution control, wastewater treatment , solid-waste management , hazardous-waste management , and recycling . Unfortunately, attempts at pollution control are often surpassed by the scale of the problem, especially in less-developed countries . Noxious levels of air pollution are common in many large cities, where particulates and gases from transportation , heating, and manufacturing accumulate and linger. The problem of plastic pollution on land and in the oceans has only grown as the use of single-use plastics has burgeoned worldwide. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and carbon dioxide , continue to drive global warming and pose a great threat to biodiversity and public health .

plastic pollution in the ocean

Written by Jerry A. Nathanson , Professor of Engineering, Union County College, Cranford, New Jersey.

Top image credit: ©Vladimir Melnik/Fotolia

More Articles on Biodiversity Loss

the problem and solution of air pollution

Millions of square kilometres of ocean have been designated as Marine Protected Areas. Read about this marine conservation strategy.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Ghost fishing gear is the lost, abandoned, or discarded fishing implements—nets, traps, pots, lines—that are left in the oceans.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Consumption is the use of goods and services by households.

All Categories

the problem and solution of air pollution

404 - NotFound

The resource you have requested cannot be found.

We're sorry :-(

Air Pollution in Thailand: Causes, Effects, Solutions

Air Pollution In Thailand Bangkok

Air pollution in Thailand is a growing concern. The country’s rapid industrialization and urbanization have led to increased emissions. Winds carrying air pollution from other Asian countries to Thailand worsen the problem. Today, Thailand ranks consistently amongst the most polluted countries in the world.

What are the causes of Thailand’s air pollution problem? How does it affect the population’s health and economy? What can we do to protect ourselves from air pollution and fight the issue? This article seeks reasons and answers

The Causes of Air Pollution in Thailand

Thailand suffers from air pollution for several months every year and is among the most polluted countries in the world. This is surprising for a country known for its sunshine, beaches, and forests and causes some people to ask why. There are many causes, but some are much more important than others, and the main causes vary by region and location. 

In Thailand, after the rainy season ends in October, many people choose to gather and burn fallen leaves and other organic matter around their homes and businesses. This heavy smoke pollutes the air in villages and cities for a few weeks every year. In northern and central Thailand from November through February, the burning of millions of rai of rice, maize corn, and sugar cane fields is the major cause of air pollution. Farmers and agricultural corporations believe that burning crop residue is the easiest way to prepare their fields for the next planting season.

Crop fires in Thailand Chiang Mai

Finally, in northern Thailand forests from late January through April, villagers burn dried fallen leaves and bushes on the forest floor to make it easier to find mushrooms, pak wan (sweet leaves), and other forest products when the rains return. Often, agricultural fires become out of control and extend into the forests.

In larger cities like Bangkok, air pollution comes from many sources, including automobiles and motorcycles, heavy industry, fossil fuel power plants, construction, and smoke from agricultural burning in surrounding areas. Together, these behaviors cause us to breathe dangerously polluted air for several months every year.

Smog and Air Pollution in Bangkok

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution consists of particulate matter (PM) and gasses ; the mixture varies depending on what is being burnt and at what temperature, and climatological factors such as temperature and wind speed.

Particulate Matter (PM)

The particles are the remains of carbon-based fuels such as crop waste, dry leaves, wood, coal, or petroleum. These come in different sizes, but all are extremely small and measured in microns; usually divided into PM 2.5 and PM 10.

What's the size of PM2.5 particulate matter

The World Health Organization Air Quality guidelines indicate that the average annual exposure to PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).

Most cities and regions in Thailand are far beyond reaching this standard. Bangkok’s PM2.5 air quality averaged 23.3 micrograms in 2022. This means it exceeded the recommended safe level by almost five times.

Unfortunately, there is no global standard for PM2.5 safe levels. In stark contrast, Thailand’s Pollution Control Department has set the ‘safe’ exposure limit at 50 μg/m3 and will lower this to 37.5 μg/m3 on June 1, 2023.  Despite this large difference, it is clear that the lowest possible exposure is best.

What Are the Health Effects of Air Pollution?

At higher concentrations, these particles become visible to the naked eye (sometimes called ‘haze’) but are harmful to us long before we can see evidence of air pollution in the sky.

The most dangerous particles include dioxins and aromatic hydrocarbons that lead to cell mutations and cancers. Because these particles are very small, they pass through our lungs and enter our bloodstream, where they harm our liver, kidneys, and immune system. In response to these foreign toxins and oxidative stress, our immune systems mount an inflammatory response that makes heart attacks, strokes, headaches, fatigue, and infections more likely.

Lung diseases, pneumonia, and heart attacks

Lung cancer, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and heart attacks are the leading causes of death from air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes about 7 million deaths worldwide each year.

The Global Burden of Diseases study estimated that in 2015, air pollution accounted for 19% of all cardiovascular deaths, 21% of deaths from stroke, and 24% of deaths from ischaemic heart disease.

29,000 premature deaths in Thailand

Because air pollution is more severe in Thailand, the proportion of cardiovascular death, stroke, and heart disease is likely to be even greater here. It has been estimated that long-term exposure to PM 2.5 in Thailand contributed to 29,000 premature deaths in 2021. Had the PM 2.5 concentrations met the WHO standards, 22,000 lives would have been saved in that year alone.

Some of these illnesses are caused by short-term intense exposure to high pollution levels, whereas others come as an effect of long-term exposure to lower levels of air pollution.

How Air Pollution Affects Children and Pregnant Women

Exposure to air pollution has serious and lasting effects on infants, children, and pregnant women. Micrometer-sized particles pass directly through the placenta and harm the growing fetus.

The harmful effects of exposure to air pollution during pregnancy include increased infant mortality, lower birth weight, impaired lung development, impaired brain development, increased respiratory disease, and delayed development of the baby’s immune system.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and childhood causes changes in the structure and function of the developing brain, negatively impacting the child’s ability to learn and remember.

Exposure to air pollution has also been associated with the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.   Even in adults, long-term exposure to air pollution decreases cognitive performance in verbal and maths tests.

It is important to understand that the health effects of air pollution accumulate over time. Every day that we breathe polluted air increases the chances of suffering serious long-term health consequences and shortens our lives. It is also crucial to understand that everyone is affected by air pollution. Although some people experience more allergic-type responses (itchy eyes, sore throat, running nose) than others, all of us are harmed by air pollution.

The Effects on the Environment

The most common gases in air pollution are nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ), ozone (O3), and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). 

These gases directly contribute to global warming and the rapidly changing climate of the Earth. At higher concentrations, these gases can have negative effects on our bodies, causing problems with our circulatory system and low oxygen levels (hypoxia) that cause fatigue, headaches, ‘brain fog’, nausea, and poor sleep quality.

When sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide enter the atmosphere from burning and are transported by wind currents, these gases react with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form sulfuric and nitric acids. These acids mix with water and other materials before falling to the ground in what is commonly called ‘acid rain’.

The effects of acid rain are most obvious in streams, lakes, and marshes where it is harmful to fish and other wildlife. The more acid that is introduced into the ecosystem, the worse the effects. Many types of plants, insects, fish, and amphibians cannot tolerate acidic waters and will die. Generally, the young are more sensitive than adults. For example, at pH 5, most fish eggs cannot hatch, and, at lower pH levels, adult fish die.

Indoor versus Outdoor Air Pollution

Clearly, it is important to do our best to reduce our exposure to air pollution. But how can we do this?

First, we need to understand that our indoor air at home is often as polluted, or even more polluted, than outdoor air. The same is true for public spaces such as shopping malls, cinemas, and restaurants. Just because the air feels cool and you do not see any smoke does not mean that the air is clean!

Open doors, leaky windows, and filtration systems with fresh air intake may heavily contribute to indoor fine dust pollution.

Other sources can come from building materials. Asbestos, lead, and formaldehyde are common indoor air pollutants that can be released from insulation, flooring, and paint. Even furniture such as carpets or sofas can emit chemicals that lead to unhealthy air in your own home.

How To Protect Yourself From Dirty Air

Protection from outdoor air pollution.

Protection From Indoor Air Pollution

Reducing Air Pollution in Thailand: How Can You Help?

For the health of its people and our environment, Thailand must improve its air quality. We, as citizens and residents, can help.

Take the time to express your concerns to local, regional, and national political leaders. Until they understand that reducing air pollution is a top priority for all of us, it is unlikely that meaningful action will be taken.

Consider lending your support to Right to Clean Air Thailand and other groups working on this issue. The establishment of a national Clean Air Act is essential to reduce air pollution. Demand that ‘no burn’ agricultural policies and practices are implemented and that forest conservation laws are enforced.

If you own a home or farm, do not burn organic matter, but instead, use a natural compost system. Work to support clean energy alternatives and to end the burning of fossil fuels.

Use public transportation, walk, or bike whenever possible. If you have a car, make sure that its engine is in good condition and have tailpipe emissions are checked annually.

Make sure your school, daycare, and workplaces take air pollution seriously. Finally, talk to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about air pollution. Each of us can play an important role in raising public awareness.

Free Guide to Breathing Safe

Want to learn more about protecting your health? Join thousands more and stay up to date on protecting your health.

Bangkok Thailand Air Pollution

Smart Air is a social enterprise and certified B-Corp that offers simple, no-nonsense air purifiers and provides free education to protect people from the harms of air pollution. We are proud to be the only certified B-Corp dedicated to fighting air pollution.

the problem and solution of air pollution

Perfect for large spaces in your home such as living rooms, kitchens, and basements. Removes 99.97% of viruses, PM2.5, bacteria, smoke, bad odors, formaldehyde, and more. 

No thanks, I’m not interested!

Air Pollution Control

Top Banner

Air Pollution & Its Control

Air pollution definition.

“Air Pollution is the release of pollutants such as gases, particles, biological molecules, etc. into the air that is harmful to human health and the environment.”

Air Pollution Diagram

Air pollution

Table of Contents

What is Air Pollution?

Types of air pollutants, primary pollutants, secondary pollutants, causes of air pollution.

Air pollution refers to any physical, chemical or biological change in the air. It is the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust and smoke which affects plants, animals and humans drastically.

There is a certain percentage of gases present in the atmosphere. An increase or decrease in the composition of these gases is harmful to survival. This imbalance in the gaseous composition has resulted in an increase in earth’s temperature, which is known as global warming.

There are two types of air pollutants:

The pollutants that directly cause air pollution are known as primary pollutants. Sulphur-dioxide emitted from factories is a primary pollutant.

The pollutants formed by the intermingling and reaction of primary pollutants are known as secondary pollutants. Smog, formed by the intermingling of smoke and fog, is a secondary pollutant.

Also Read:  Water Pollution

Following are the important causes of air pollution:

Burning of Fossil Fuels

The combustion of fossil fuels emits a large amount of sulphur dioxide. Carbon monoxide released by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels also results in air pollution.


The gases emitted from vehicles such as jeeps, trucks, cars, buses, etc. pollute the environment. These are the major sources of greenhouse gases and also result in diseases among individuals.

Agricultural Activities

Ammonia is one of the most hazardous gases emitted during agricultural activities. The insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers emit harmful chemicals in the atmosphere and contaminate it.

Factories and Industries

Factories and industries are the main source of carbon monoxide, organic compounds, hydrocarbons and chemicals. These are released into the air, degrading its quality.

Mining Activities

In the mining process, the minerals below the earth are extracted using large pieces of equipment. The dust and chemicals released during the process not only pollute the air, but also deteriorate the health of the workers and people living in the nearby areas.

Domestic Sources

The household cleaning products and paints contain toxic chemicals that are released in the air. The smell from the newly painted walls is the smell of the chemicals present in the paints. It not only pollutes the air but also affects breathing.

Effects of Air Pollution

The hazardous effects of air pollution on the environment include:

Air pollution has resulted in several respiratory disorders and heart diseases among humans. The cases of lung cancer have increased in the last few decades. Children living near polluted areas are more prone to pneumonia and asthma. Many people die every year due to the direct or indirect effects of air pollution.

Global Warming

Due to the emission of greenhouse gases, there is an imbalance in the gaseous composition of the air. This has led to an increase in the temperature of the earth. This increase in earth’s temperature is known as global warming . This has resulted in the melting of glaciers and an increase in sea levels. Many areas are submerged underwater.

The burning of fossil fuels releases harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides in the air. The water droplets combine with these pollutants, become acidic and fall as acid rain which damages human, animal and plant life.

Ozone Layer Depletion

The release of chlorofluorocarbons, halons, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere is the major cause of depletion of the ozone layer. The depleting ozone layer does not prevent the harmful ultraviolet rays coming from the sun and causes skin diseases and eye problems among individuals. Also Read:  Ozone Layer Depletion

Effect on Animals

The air pollutants suspend in the water bodies and affect aquatic life. Pollution also compels the animals to leave their habitat and shift to a new place. This renders them stray and has also led to the extinction of a large number of animal species.

Following are the measures one should adopt, to control air pollution:

Avoid Using Vehicles

People should avoid using vehicles for shorter distances. Rather, they should prefer public modes of transport to travel from one place to another. This not only prevents pollution, but also conserves energy.

Energy Conservation

A large number of fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity. Therefore, do not forget to switch off the electrical appliances when not in use. Thus, you can save the environment at the individual level. Use of energy-efficient devices such as CFLs also controls pollution to a greater level.

Use of Clean Energy Resources

The use of solar, wind and geothermal energies reduce air pollution at a larger level. Various countries, including India, have implemented the use of these resources as a step towards a cleaner environment.

Other air pollution control measures include:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the major cause of air pollution, how air pollution causes global warming, what is acid rain name the gases responsible for acid rain., deforestation is a major reason for air pollution. explain..

Quiz Image

Put your understanding of this concept to test by answering a few MCQs. Click ‘Start Quiz’ to begin!

Select the correct answer and click on the “Finish” button Check your score and answers at the end of the quiz

Visit BYJU’S for all Biology related queries and study materials

Your result is as below


very well explained. I could not find so amazing information on air pollution for school hw. Epic stuff!!!


😢😢😢Yes, everyone has not aware about pollution and but we do effort for reduce pollution & make our earth future bright💐💐

Right✔👉 bro😎

Thank you Byjus for such an easy lesson !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Relevant answers and easy to learn and understand Byjus helps me alot Thanks

At the time of lockdown the environment has improved but when the lockdown will end the pollution rate would increase😖😖😖😫😫😫🙁🙁🙁🙍🙍🙍

Otherwise nicely explained👍👍👍keep it up

Yaa right bro Thanks to Byjus for this


a very informative page

There is nothing more than living in a world full of Polluted gas and we leave bad environment for our future generation. 😕 Lets keep the word a beautiful place to live for everyone.

Very useful 👌 used it for my daughter’s oral

It is very useful I understood everything

Nice presentation and explanation 👌👌👌and it’s very useful for better understanding

Thank you so much, this content was really very informative, helpful and too useful for me. Thanks to Byjus 🙏😇

Thank you soo much for this info . It was really helpful for my project

Thank you BYJUS

Thank you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much this helped me in my project


It helped me a lot with my project, thank you so much Byjus!

It’s very good for students

Well explained!

Thank you so much.

Byjus is best

Thank you for this this was very helpful for me

Thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much this helped me in my project

Well explained

Thank you so much

This is very good. And this makes my project easy

Thank you so much 🙏🙏 Easily understandable language. Lots of love and respect from the “Heaven of eath”. KASHMIR 🥰🥰

Really good by byjus 👏👍👍 It really help in my projects work And I got 1 prize because of bonus

Thanks From Prabal

Thank you so much it is easy way to understan so thank you😍😍😍

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Request OTP on Voice Call

Post Comment

the problem and solution of air pollution

Register with BYJU'S & Download Free PDFs


CNN values your feedback

Independent lab testing finds elevated level of chemical of concern in air near east palestine, ohio, train derailment.

Jen Christensen

A mobile lab monitoring for air pollution at the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, found one potential chemical of concern at higher levels than normal, a team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and Texas A&M said at a briefing on Friday. Researchers said it’s not yet clear what impact the chemical acrolein could be having on residents’ health.

A woman points her finger during a town hall held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., March 2, 2023.  REUTERS/Alan Freed

East Palestine residents voice frustrations, frequently interrupt train company official at tense town hall

The US Environmental Protection Agency gave the all clear for residents to return home shortly after the February 3 derailment and controlled burn that followed. The agency, along with local and state environmental experts, has been taking samples from the air, ground, water and from residents’ homes. Many residents have reported worrisome health symptoms in the weeks since the derailment, including rashes and headaches.

Information in the new analysis was collected on February 20 and 21, university researchers said. The mobile lab, located in a van, sucks in air from above the driver’s head as it slowly drives around public roads. It collects data points every second, the team said, and the unit has sensitive equipment that can measure pollution in the parts per billion; they can identify even minute pollutant concentrations that may otherwise be untraceable.

The lab found that values of benzene, toluene, xylenes and vinyl chloride were below the minimal risk levels for intermediate exposures as set by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The team said Friday there were no “hot spots” detected by their mobile sampling, and the analysis corroborates the data collected by the US Environmental Protection Agency between February 8 and February 22.

Residents visit a newly opened clinic following the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals which caused a fire that sent a cloud of smoke over the town of East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Alan Freed

Ohio, Pennsylvania offer health services following train derailment, but some residents feel skeptical

“We didn’t see any hotspots, which I think is probably a positive takeaway,” said Albert Presto, an associate research professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation who is working on the university’s chemical monitoring effort in East Palestine. “I would say there’s a need for further investigation and for continued sampling” because of potential risk, particularly from the chemical acrolein.

Acrolein was also below the minimal risk level, but it was the one chemical that was notably high, the researchers said. When compared with levels in downtown Pittsburgh, levels in the East Palestine area ranged from five times lower to three times higher on February 20.

Acrolein is used to control plants, algae, rodents and microorganisms. It is a clear liquid at room temperature and it is toxic; it can cause inflammation and irritation of the skin, respiratory tract and mucous membranes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

While acrolein was not on the list of chemicals carried on the derailed train cars, it can be created during the combustion of fuels, wood and plastics, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer .

Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw speaks to reporters, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, near the site where a freight train derailed Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern CEO sells stock and sets up scholarship fund for East Palestine

The Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon researchers say the test method the EPA is using to measure acrolein on the scene has a limit that is too high to pick up levels relevant to health.

“The current methodology used by the EPA is not very sensitive and acrolein is a difficult chemical to evaluate,” said Dr. Ivan Rusyn, director of the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Center, part of the team that did the analysis. “This is potentially not the only concern. You need to look broader at other types of contaminants, and this is what mobile laboratory allows one to do.”

The university researchers had previously shared results from an initial analysis of the EPA’s data that suggested that nine of the dozens of chemicals that the agency has been monitoring are higher than would normally be found in the area. The researchers said these could potentially be a problem for residents’ health in the long term .

CNN has reached out to the EPA for comment about the new analysis. On Monday, an agency spokesperson told CNN the agency’s air monitoring data shows that levels of monitored chemicals “are below levels of concern for adverse health impacts from short-term exposures.” The agency did not expect chemicals to remain at high levels in the area, but said it is “committed to staying in East Palestine and will continue to monitor the air inside and outside of homes to ensure that these levels remain safe over time.”

Rusyn said they are pleased that the EPA has said it is also deploying a mobile lab to do additional testing. Scientists will need to continue to monitor acrolein and other compounds in the area to determine if exposures persist, he said.

Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter

Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

“The reason to continue testing – at least at some intervals after the event – in establishing those trends, part of that is really for communication purposes, to really reassure the residents that you know the level and explain to them where the levels after the disaster were as compared to some sort of a baseline,” Rusyn said.

Rusyn said it is too soon to know whether elevated levels are having an impact on residents’ health.

“We can’t draw to many conclusions about potential health effects because the levels that are being reported are below detection limits, but the health thresholds are also below the detection limit. So there are additional or different methods that are more sensitive, they take more time, and they are more elaborate, and we’re hoping that the agencies will use some of those methods, as well, in the future,” Rusyn said.

the problem and solution of air pollution


  1. Air pollution has a devastating impact on children’s health

    the problem and solution of air pollution

  2. Solving Air Pollution Problems With IoT-Led Solutions

    the problem and solution of air pollution

  3. How Can Cycling And Taking Public Transport Help To Reduce Air Pollution

    the problem and solution of air pollution

  4. Various initiatives for the mitigation of air pollution

    the problem and solution of air pollution

  5. #Write My Research Paper for Me

    the problem and solution of air pollution

  6. Pollution Solutions on SCAD Portfolios

    the problem and solution of air pollution


  1. Topic 7 Air Pollution


  3. Union Agriculture Minister Offers Solution To Tackle Stubble Burning

  4. हवा को साफ करने वाले कुछ दिलचस्प आविष्कार [Innovative ideas to clean the air]

  5. पॉल्यूशन से ज्यादा ‘ज़हरीली’ है इस पर राजनीति : Amitabh Agnihotri Explain

  6. Air Pollution


  1. Air Pollution Solutions

    There Are Many Solutions to Air Pollution In order to improve air quality and slow climate warming, change needs to happen on a national and global scale. However, actions at the individual and community level are also important. Burn less coal.

  2. 10 ways you can fight air pollution

    10 ways you can fight air pollution Children and air pollution; 10 Things to Know About Air Pollution ; I don't drive during rush hour. I drive an electric vehicle. I walk to work. I compost my waste. I recycle my waste. I don't burn waste. I use renewable energy to power my home.

  3. Air pollution: How to reduce harm to your health

    Air pollution: How to reduce harm to your health August 13, 2021 By Wynne Armand, MD, Contributor Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Get regular exercise. Don't smoke. Control high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. These are age-old words of wisdom for a healthful life.

  4. Air Pollution

    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.

  5. Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

    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...

  6. Air Pollution: Current and Future Challenges

    Outdoor air pollution challenges facing the United States today include: Meeting health-based standards for common air pollutants Limiting climate change Reducing risks from toxic air pollutants Protecting the stratospheric ozone layer against degradation Indoor air pollution, which arises from a variety of causes, also can cause health problems.

  7. Air Pollution: Cause, Effect and Solution

    Some of the harmful effects brought on by excessive air pollution are as follows: Respiratory Problems Breathing in polluted air can cause a variety of respiratory problems. Air pollution has also been linked with several heart conditions. The pollution does not have to be direct for you to experience the negative impacts.

  8. How to beat pollution

    The Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Biodiversity Targets call for a decrease in pollution and demand specific actions on excess nutrients. The Paris Climate Agreement is a major step forward in tackling both climate change and air pollution. We need to adapt these models, and scale up what works. We also need to dramatically step ...

  9. 3 ways we can solve the air pollution crisis

    When burnt, it releases more carbon dioxide (CO 2) per unit of energy than oil or gas - which means it heats up our planet faster. Coal is toxic too. Burning it releases elements like mercury and arsenic, and small particles of soot which contribute to air pollution.

  10. Solutions to air pollution: how to improve air quality?

    Air pollution is one of the biggest threats for the environment and affects everyone: humans, animals, crops, cities, forests, aquatic ecosystems... What causes air pollution? What are the effects? And most importantly, what are the possible solutions to tackle it? 01. Solutions Air pollution solutions

  11. Air pollution

    Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.

  12. 5 Brilliant Solutions to Air Pollution

    Ordinarily, the solutions to air pollution have focused on establishing a mix of technological solutions, regulations and policies, and encouraging behavioral change. Let's have a look at some of the effective solutions to air pollution. 1. Cleaning Smokestacks and Exhaust Pipes

  13. What are the Biggest Causes and Effects of Air Pollution?

    Heat waves 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 ...

  14. The Clean Air Act: Solving Air Pollution Problems with Science and

    The Act Helps to Spur Advances in Clean Technology. The challenge of cleaning the air has helped to spur development of cleaner technologies such as smokestack scrubbers, the catalytic converter, and low-VOC paints. <Learn more about the development of clean technologies>.

  15. 35 Ways to Reduce Air Pollution

    Here are 35 of the most effective ways to reduce air pollution: 1. Active monitoring of air quality. One of the first steps for tackling the problem of air pollution is monitoring the level of pollution in the air. Authorities can measure air quality using a range of advanced photochemical and optical sensor systems and multi-pollutant ...

  16. Actions You Can Take to Reduce Air Pollution

    Walk to errands when possible. Avoid excessive idling of your automobile. Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler. Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees. Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

  17. Pollution

    Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land.

  18. 34 Causes, Effects and Solutions for Air Pollution

    Air pollution may have negative impacts on humans in the form of allergies, diseases or even death. It also has an adverse effect on animals and plants as well as on the whole ecological system. Air pollution can be caused by both natural processes as well as by human behavior.

  19. Air Pollution- Problems and Solution.edited.docx

    1 Student's name Professor Course Date Air Pollution- Problems and Solution Air pollution refers to the contamination of the environment by physical, biological, and chemical agents, resulting in variations in natural atmospheric characteristics. Most household consumption devices, forest fires, industrial facilities, and motor vehicles are potential sources of air pollution.

  20. What Causes Air Pollution?

    Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes and wildfires. The solid and liquid particles suspended in our air are called aerosols . Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

  21. Air Pollution: A Global Problem

    Air pollution is a major global environmental risk to our health and food security. It is estimated to cause about 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide and destroys enough crops to feed millions of people every year. I durst not laugh for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air. Health officials, the general public and farmers need ...

  22. The Pollution Problem

    The Pollution Problem. Pollution, also called environmental pollution, the addition of any substance ( solid, liquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment at a rate faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form.

  23. Online Library Air Pollution Problem Solution Pdf Free Copy

    Problems, TE Microplastic in the Environment: Pattern and Process The Problem of Air Pollution in the United States and the Solution Policies Agricultural Pollution An Earth-Bot's Solution to Plastic Pollution Debris and Refuse in Boston Harbor Combined Sewer Flooding and Pollution--a National

  24. Air Pollution in Thailand: Causes, Effects, Solutions

    The harmful effects of exposure to air pollution during pregnancy include increased infant mortality, lower birth weight, impaired lung development, impaired brain development, increased respiratory disease, and delayed development of the baby's immune system. Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and childhood causes changes in the ...

  25. Air Pollution

    Air pollution refers to any physical, chemical or biological change in the air. It is the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust and smoke which affects plants, animals and humans drastically. There is a certain percentage of gases present in the atmosphere. An increase or decrease in the composition of these gases is harmful to survival.

  26. Independent lab testing finds elevated levels of chemical of concern in

    A mobile lab monitoring for air pollution at the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, found one potential chemical of concern at higher levels than normal, a team ...

  27. PFAS from firefighting foam, other products pollutes Cape Cod water

    BOURNE — Rose Forbes, 56, a pollution cleanup manager for the U.S. Air Force on Joint Base Cape Cod, slowly drove her compact SUV toward the entrance of the Otis Rotary in Bourne on a rainy ...