Air Pollution Facts



  • Air pollution comes mainly from car, bus and truck exhausts, waste burners, factories, power stations and the burning of oil, coal and gas in homes.
  • Air pollution can also come from farmers’ crop sprays, farm animals, mining and volcanic eruptions.
  • Some pollutants, such as soot and ash, are solid, but many more pollutants are gases.
  • Air pollution can spread huge distances. Pesticides, for instance, have been discovered in Antarctica where they have never been used.
  • Most fuels are chemicals called hydrocarbons. Any hydrocarbons that are left unburned can react in sunlight to form toxic ozone.
  • When exhaust gases react in strong sunlight to form ozone, they may create a photochemical smog.
  • Air pollution is probably a major cause of global warming (see global warming).
  • Air pollution may destroy the ozone layer inside the Earth’s atmosphere (see the ozone hole).
  • Breathing the air in Mexico City is thought to be as harmful as smoking 40 cigarettes a day.
  • The increased use of cars has made air pollution a serious problem, particularly in the world’s largest cities.