Air Pollution Factsheet
Air pollution consists of substances present in the atmosphere in high enough levels to harm humans, other animals, plants, or materials. Air pollution can result from human activities such as driving cars. It can also come from natural sources, such as smoke from forest fires caused by lightning or from volcano eruptions.
The story so far: Pollution caused by humans is now disturbing the delicate balance of nature on earth. Far from being a new problem, pollution has been around for centuries. However, as the population increases, pollution problems also increase. A combination of a rapidly multiplying population, and the growth of industries and car use are the main causes of air pollution today.
Much of the worlds' population lives in areas where air pollution levels exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. In Asia, rapid urbanisation, with the associated growth in industry and vehicle use, has increased emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Further large increases of air pollutants are expected if current development patterns persist.
Major Air Pollutants & their Impacts
• Suspended Particulate Matter
This is a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air. Suspended particulates are seen as dust, smoke, and haze which can make breathing difficult, especially for people with chronic respiratory problems.
• Volatile OrganicCompounds (VOCs)
VOCs include gasoline, paint solvents, and organic cleaning solutions. They evaporate and enter the air as vapour, and as molecules resulting from the incomplete burning of fuels and wastes.
• Carbon Monoxide (CO)
One source of carbon monoxide is vehicle emissions. This is an invisible, odourless gas that is highly toxic to air-breathing animals because it interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen. Even low levels can start or increase damage to the heart in individuals with artery or heart problems. At medium concentrations, carbon...