Air Pollution Characteristics


The Environmental Protection Agency estimates air pollution and particulate matter cause 60,000 deaths each year. There are natural factors that contribute to air pollution, but modernization and the transportation industry drastically increase the levels of toxic fumes.

Plant Life

  • Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other air pollutants can enter the pores of developing plants and break down the waxy coating that protects them from disease and excess water loss.

Carbon Monoxide

  • The internal combustion engines of cars and other vehicles produce carbon monoxide, which is a highly poisonous gas. According to the American Heart Association, breathing this form of air pollution over a long period of time can cause serious respiratory problems.

Aerial Transport

  • The effects of air pollution can be felt thousands of miles from its original source. China's industrial pollution can be felt in Western parts of the United States. Aerial transport has also caused pesticides from farms in South America to arrive in Antarctica.

Natural Causes

  • Volcanic activity can be one of the most significant natural sources of air pollution. When volcanoes erupt, they spew large amounts of ash and toxic chemicals into the air.

Other Natural Causes

  • Desert areas create dust storms that contribute to particulate matter in the atmosphere. Forest and grass fires also produce smoke that causes chemical pollutants to enter the air.

Industrial Modernization

  • The quality of air is being reduced by industrial modernization. Cement factories, mines, steel manufacturers and thermal-power plants are among some of the leading producers of air pollution.


  • Photo Credit BPA Air Quality Solutions LLC
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