Air pollution is the modification of the natural characteristics of the atmosphere by a chemical, particulate matter, or biological agent. The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems. Worldwide air pollution is responsible for large numbers of deaths and cases of respiratory disease. While major stationary sources are often identified with air pollution, the greatest source of emissions is actually mobile sources, mainly automobiles. Gases such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming, have recently gained recognition as pollutants by climate scientists, while they also recognize that carbon dioxide is essential for plant life through photosynthesis.
There are many substances in the air which may impair the health of plants and animals (including humans), or reduce visibility. These arise both from natural processes and human activity. Substances not naturally found in the air or at greater concentrations or in different locations from usual are referred to as pollutants. Pollutants can be classified as either primary or secondary. Primary pollutants are substances directly emitted from a process, such as ash from a volcanic eruption or the carbon monoxide gas from a motor vehicle exhaust. Secondary pollutants are not emitted directly. Rather, they form in the air when primary pollutants react or interact. An important example of a secondary pollutant is ground level ozone - one of the many secondary pollutants that make up photochemical smog. Note that some pollutants may be both primary and secondary: that is, they are both emitted directly and formed from other primary pollutants. Major primary pollutants produced by human activity include:
• Sulfur oxides (SOx)...