Air Pollution - Definition, Causes, Effects and Control (2023)

Air pollution definition

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

Air Pollution Chart

Air Pollution - Definition, Causes, Effects and Control (1)

Table of Contents

  • What is air pollution?
  • types of air pollutants
  • Primary pollutants
  • Secondary pollutants
  • Causes of Air Pollution

What is air pollution?

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

There is a certain percentage of gases in the atmosphere. An increase or decrease in the composition of these gases is life-threatening. This imbalance in gas composition has led to a rise in the Earth's temperature known as global warming.

types of air pollutants

There are two types of air pollutants:

Primary pollutants

The pollutants that directly cause air pollution are called primary pollutants. Sulfur dioxide emitted from factories is a major pollutant.

(Video) Air Pollution: Definition, causes, effects & control measures.

Secondary pollutants

The pollutants resulting from the mixing and reaction of primary pollutants are referred to as secondary pollutants. Smog, created by the mixing of smoke and fog, is a secondary pollutant.

Also read:water pollution

Causes of Air Pollution

The following are the main causes of air pollution:

Combustion of fossil fuels

The burning offossil fuelsemits a large amount of sulfur dioxide. Carbon monoxide released from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels also causes air pollution.


The gases emitted by vehicles such as jeeps, trucks, cars, buses, etc. pollute the environment. These are the main sources of greenhouse gases and also lead to illness in individuals.

agricultural activities

Ammonia is one of the most dangerous gases released from agricultural activities. The insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and contaminate it.

factories and industries

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

(Video) Air Pollution : Meaning , Causes , Effects and Control Measures

mining activities

Mining involves mining the minerals underground using large equipment. The resulting dust and chemicals not only pollute the air, but also worsen the health of workers and residents in the surrounding areas.

Domestic Sources

The household cleaners and paints contain toxic chemicals that are released into the air. The smell from the freshly painted walls is the smell of the chemicals in the paint. Not only does it pollute the air, but it also affects breathing.

effects of air pollution

Dangerous effects of air pollution on the environment include:


Air pollution has led to several respiratory diseases and heart diseases in humans. Lung cancer cases have increased in recent decades. Children living near polluted areas are more prone to pneumonia and asthma. Many people die every year from the direct or indirect effects of air pollution.

global warming

The emission of greenhouse gases leads to an imbalance in the gaseous composition of the air. This has led to global warming. This increase in Earth's temperature is known asglobal warming. This has led to melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Many areas are submerged under water.

acid rain

When fossil fuels are burned, harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are released into the air. The water droplets combine with these pollutants, turning acidic and falling as acid rain, which harms humans, animals and plants.

ozone layer depletion

The release of chlorofluorocarbons, halons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere is the primary cause of ozone depletion. The depleting ozone layer does not prevent the harmful ultraviolet rays from coming from the sun and causes skin diseases and eye problems in humans.
Also read:ozone layer depletion

effect on animals

Air pollutants float in water bodies and affect aquatic life. Pollution also forces the animals to leave their habitat and move to a new place. This makes them roaming and has also led to the extinction of numerous animal species.


air pollution control

Below are the measures one should take to control air pollution:

Avoid using vehicles

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

Energy saving

Many fossil fuels are burned to generate electricity. Therefore, do not forget to switch off electronic devices when not in use. So you can protect the environment on an individual level. Using energy efficient devices like CFLs also controls pollution at a higher level.

Use of clean energy resources

The use of solar, wind and geothermal energy reduces air pollution to a greater level. Various countries including India have adopted the use of these resources as a step towards a cleaner environment.

Other measures to keep the air clean are:

  1. By minimizing and reducing the use of fire and fire products.
  2. As industrial emissions are a major source of air pollution, the pollutants can be controlled or treated at the source itself to reduce their impact. For example, if the reactions of a particular raw material result in a pollutant, then the raw materials can be substituted with other less polluting materials.
  3. Fuel substitution is another way to control air pollution. In many parts of India, petrol and diesel are being replaced by vehicles powered by CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). These are mainly adopted by vehicles that are not fully powered by ideal emission engines.
  4. Although there are many practices in India that focus on improving air quality, most are either forgotten or not properly enforced. There are still many vehicles on the road that have not been tested for vehicle emissions.
  5. Another way to control air pollution from industry is to modify and maintain existing equipment to minimize the emission of pollutants.
  6. Sometimes it is not possible to control pollutants at the source. In this case we can have process control devices to control the pollution.
  7. A very effective way to control air pollution is to dilute air pollutants.
  8. The last and best way to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution is to plant trees. Plants and trees reduce a variety of pollutants in the air. Ideally, planting trees in areas with high pollution levels is extremely effective.

Also read:environmental issues

frequently asked Questions

What is the main cause of air pollution?

The main cause of air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels. The incomplete combustion of fossil fuels releases harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc. into the atmosphere that pollute the air.

How does air pollution cause global warming?

With air pollution, the release of greenhouse gases changes the gaseous composition of the atmosphere and leads to global warming. This increased temperature of the earth is known as global warming.

What is acid rain? Name the gases responsible for acid rain.

Acid rain is the precipitation of acid in the form of rain. The harmful gases such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. These pollutants react with the rainwater and fall as acid rain.

Deforestation is a major cause of air pollution. To explain.

Deforestation can be defined as the large-scale removal of trees from forests or other land. Plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere for the process of photosynthesis, this leads to a decrease in the amount of CO2in the atmosphere. As the number of trees decreases due to deforestation, the amount of CO2in the atmosphere is increasing and causing air pollution.

(Video) Air pollution,sources,effects and control measures

(Video) Air Pollution, meaning, causes, effects and control measures
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