Air Pollution Sources

Factories like this are a major source of air pollution.
Click on image for full size (51 Kb)
Copyright UCAR

Air pollution comes from many different sources. Natural processes that affect air quality include volcanic activity, which produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash particulates, and wildfires, which produce smoke and carbon monoxide. Cattle and other animals emit methane as part of their digestive process. Even pine trees emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

There are many forms of air pollution that are human-made. Industrial plants, combustion-fired power plants and vehicles with internal combustion engines generate nitrogen oxides, VOCs, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates. In most megacities, such as Mexico City and Los Angeles, cars are the primary source of these pollutants. Stoves and incinerators, especially ones that are coal or wood-fired, and farmers burning their crop waste produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, as well as particulates. Other human-made sources include aerosol sprays and gases leaking from refrigeration systems, as well as fumes from paint, varnish, and other solvents. Additional pollutants, like ozone and acids, are made in the atmosphere when human-made gases combine chemically.

One important thing to remember about air pollution is that it doesn’t stay in one place. Winds and weather play an important part in transport of pollution locally, regionally, and even around the world, where it affects everything it comes in contact with.


Air Pollution

Atmospheric Chemistry

Pollution Effects

Transport

Listen to a Podcast about How Divorce is Bad for the Environment

Air Pollution Sources

Factories like this are a major source of air pollution.
Click on image for full size (51 Kb)
Copyright UCAR

Air pollution comes from many different sources. Natural processes that affect air quality include volcanoes, which produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash particulates. Wildfires produce smoke and carbon monoxide. Cattle and other animals emit methane as part of their digestive process. Even pine trees emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Many forms of air pollution are human-made. Industrial plants, power plants and vehicles with internal combustion engines produce nitrogen oxides, VOCs, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates. In most megacities, such as Mexico City and Los Angeles, cars are the main source of these pollutants. Stoves, incinerators, and farmers burning their crop waste produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, as well as particulates. Other human-made sources include aerosol sprays and leaky refrigerators, as well as fumes from paint, varnish, and other solvents.

One important thing to remember about air pollution is that it doesn’t say in one place. Winds and weather play an important part in transport of pollution locally, regionally, and even around the world, where it affects everything it comes in contact with.


Air Pollution

Atmospheric Chemistry

Pollution Effects

Transport

Listen to a Podcast about How Divorce is Bad for the Environment

Air Pollution Sources

Factories like this are a major source of air pollution.
Click on image for full size (51 Kb)
Copyright UCAR

Air pollution comes from many sources. Some natural sources affect air quality. Volcanoes produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash. Wildfires make smoke and carbon monoxide. Cattle and other animals release methane as part of their digestive process. Even pine trees make volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

People make many types of air pollution. Factories, power plants and cars make nitrogen oxides, VOCs, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates. In most megacities, such as Mexico City and Los Angeles, cars are the biggest source of air pollution. Even farmers burning their crop waste make carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulates.

One important thing to remember about air pollution is that it doesn’t say in one place. Winds and weather play an important part in moving pollution around. Pollution can move all around the world, changing everything it touches.


Air Pollution

Atmospheric Chemistry

Pollution Effects

Transport

Listen to a Podcast about How Divorce is Bad for the Environment


Page created January 31, 2006 by Dennis Ward. Last modified February 6, 2008 by Travis Metcalfe.
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). © The Regents of the University of Michigan. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer