What Are the Top Five Causes of Air Pollution?

Jane Marsh - November 1, 2022

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In 2017, over 90% of the world population was exposed to unhealthy air. Air pollution can impact human health, such as causing dizziness or nausea. The longer exposure can also lead to long-term issues, such as heart disease or lung cancer. 

Air pollution can also damage the environment. For example, trees and crops become vulnerable to disease. Plus, it can produce acid rain and block sunlight. This causes the earth to warm up and begin to melt ice and glaciers. Global warming creates issues for animals who rely on specific habitat conditions.

So, you might be wondering, what are the top five causes of air pollution? Here are the main ones to look out for. 

1. Industries 

Industries are one of the top contributors to air pollution. In fact, it accounts for about 50% of the total pollution in the United States. Manufacturing processes release pollutants, such as nitrous oxide into the air. 

Also, many factories burn fossil fuels to power their systems. The food industry contributes as well. For example, frying and smoking processes release soot into the air. In addition, agricultural fertilizers contribute to pollution. Plus, when broken down, waste that ends in landfills produces methane gas. 

All these processes apply to the impact of global warming. One way to reduce air pollution is for companies to use renewable energy sources, such as solar. Another idea is to use technology that helps remove particles from exhaust streams. This helps to control the spread of pollutants. 

2.  Cars 

You may not consider your role when thinking about what are the top five causes of air pollution. However, cars emit about one-fourth of the total carbon emissions. This comes from burning fossil fuels. This fuel releases nitroxide oxide, which contributes to acid rain and smog. However, people rely on vehicles to get to work and meet friends. Plus, many industries depend on transportation trucks to ship and receive new products. 

One way to reduce our carbon footprint is taking public transportation whenever possible. Try to plan out your trips or carpool to use less gas. Another strategy is to keep your vehicle in good shape and your tires inflated. Also, try not to leave your car idling for too long.  

3. Chemicals in HouseHold and Farming Products

Pay attention to your household activities, when thinking about what are the top five causes of air pollution. Processes such as fumigating and painting emit harmful chemicals into the air. Some cleaning supplies and pest killers have toxic chemicals as well. For example, bleach contains a strong corrosive that irritates your skin or eyes. 

So, open your windows and use fans to air out the space. In addition, consider using natural alternatives to household cleaning products. For example, vinegar and lemon juice are two common options. 

4. Wildfires in the Forest

Climate change is causing unpredictable weather, leading to wildfires. Burning farm residue can contribute as well. When the fire burns the particles collide with chemical gas and pollen to form smog. Smog can cloud our visibility and make it difficult to breathe. These emissions can also impact radiation, clouds, and climate on a global scale. 

To prevent wildfires take precautions when you’re camping. For example, check weather conditions and build the flames in an open location. Also, keep your car off dry grass and properly maintain your vehicle.  

For taking care of yard waste only burn it in a 50-gallon container or fire pit. Make sure you are always watching the flames. Then before going inside, completely douse the fire. Keep in mind you don’t want to burn anything combustible, such as paper, or build a fire on a windy day. 

5. Construction Processes 

The construction industry contributes about 25%-40% of the world’s carbon emissions. They use non-renewable energy sources to heat and power homes. When building, the equipment they use releases fuel emissions. Plus, some chemicals used in the process, such as lead can pollute waterways. During the demolition stage, many materials end up in landfills. 

Another major issue is deforestation, to create space for properties. With the trees gone, they can’t absorb carbon dioxide from the air. In fact, trees can consume about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. 

To help prevent construction pollution, increase energy efficiency in buildings. Start by investing in energy-efficient appliances and properly insulating the home. Also, smart technology, such as thermostats, or lights, can reduce carbon emissions. 

Here are some other ways to reduce air pollution:

  • Implement sustainable construction projects
  • Use eco-friendly materials
  • Set emission reduction targets 
  • Reduce the amount of discharge pollutants
  • Repurpose demolition materials  

What Are the Top Five Causes of Air Pollution to Know

Air pollution can cause negative impacts on the environment and humans. So, you may be wondering what are the top five causes of air pollution? Many daily processes, such as manufacturing products, cause emissions of greenhouse gasses. With these factors in mind, take action to reduce your carbon footprint today. 

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.