Where Do They Come From?

Man-Made Sources

Sources of pollution caused by human activity include:

  • Power plants - PM10 (Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometers in size), NOx, Sulphur, Benzene
  • Waste incinerators - Sulphur , Benzene
  • Motor vehicles - PM10 (diesel engines), N0x, lead (petrol), Benzene / Carbon monoxide (exhaust fumes)
  • Aircraft
  • Marine vessels
  • Fertilisers
  • Landfills
  • Cigarette smoke - Benzene

Around 40% of air pollution can be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. For example, one coal-fired power station can emit 16 million tonnes of CO2 a year.


Natural sources

Natural sources of air pollution are:

  • Volcanoes - these produce chlorine, ash and sulphur
  • Radon - this is found in radioactive decay in the Earth's crust
  • Smoke - caused by wildfires
  • Methane -  from animals' digestive systems
  • Dust - from expanses of land with little or no vegetation: PM10
  • Windblown sea salt – PM10
  • Air masses – Ozone

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