How do you define air pollution?

Air pollution is the introduction of particulates, biological molecules, or other harmful materials into Earth's atmosphere, causing disease, death to humans, damage to other living organisms such as food crops, or the natural or built environment.

Air pollution may come from anthropogenic or natural sources (Wikipedia, 2016). According to the EPA, The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for specific pollutants to safeguard human health and the environment.

These standards define the minimum levels of air quality that the EPA determines are necessary to protect against the adverse impacts of air pollution, based on scientific evidence.

The EPA has established standards for six common air pollutants, which are referred to as “criteria” pollutants:

  1. Carbon monoxide (CO)
  2. Lead (Pb)
  3. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  4. Ozone (O3)
  5. Particulate matter (PM2.5/PM10), and
  6. Sulfur dioxide (SO2)


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