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Air Pollutants: What Are They and How Do They Affect Us?

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

We all know that air pollution is bad. It can lead to chronic health issues in humans and affects plants, animals and the surrounding environment, too.

What we might not know is where air pollution comes from, what it’s made of and how it really affects us. This article answers that, including the main types of air pollutants, both indoor and outdoor.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is the contamination of indoor and outdoor air as a result of chemical, physical or biological substances that change the atmosphere, causing possible risks for humans. It can cause the air to become harmful to the health of humans and other living things or create damage to the climate or materials.

What Causes Air Pollution?

Many things can cause air pollution, but the most common causes include:

  • Fuel oils burning or evaporating

  • Natural gas burning

  • Coal burning

  • Chemical fumes

  • Wood-burning fires

  • Dust lifting/raising

  • Wildfires

  • Volcanic eruptions

  • Solvents’ use

  • Reactions in the atmosphere between compounds that are not pollutants on their own

What Pollutes the Air?

There are many different types of air pollutants. This article runs through the top eight outdoor air pollutants and the top seven indoor air pollutants in detail.

At a glance, these are:

Outdoor air pollutants

Indoor air pollutants

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