• Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 25-01-2023

Air Pollution: Types and Control Measures


Air pollution is one of the most severe challenges facing today’s planet. As a result of anthropogenic activity, our atmosphere is becoming increasingly contaminated. Any chemical, physical or biological change in the air is air pollution. Pollution of the air by toxic gases, dust, and smoke has a significant impact on plants, animals, and humans. The pollution is typically caused due to contaminants emitted into the air due to a variety of human activities.

Students need to learn such concepts as they are the responsible future citizens of the nation and need to take preventive measures and safeguard the resources available to them and their future generations. In this article, let’s know the air pollution causes, effects and control measures. Continue reading to learn more.

What is Air Pollution?

what is air pollution

The release of gases, particles, biological molecules, etc., into the air, is harmful to human health and the environment leading to air pollution.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is defined as “the presence of materials in the air in such concentration, which is harmful to man and his environment.”

The polluted air never remains in one place. It spreads to the whole environment and affects people’s lives worldwide. The death rate of human beings has increased because of the increased variety of diseases. The polluted air we breathe every moment causes lung disorders, skin rashes, and even lung cancer. Different types of pollutants mixed up in the air is the leading cause of air pollution.

Types of Air Pollutants

A pollutant is a waste material or any unwanted material present in the air, water or soil. Broadly, we can classify these pollutants into two major categories. 

Learn About Environmental Pollution

There are two types of air pollutants:

  1. Primary Air Pollutants 
  2. Secondary Air Pollutants

Primary Air Pollutants

Primary Air Pollutant

The pollutants that directly cause air pollution are known as primary pollutants. They are the direct emissions from some identifiable source. 
Example: Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, fluorides, particulate matter, chlorofluorocarbon, hydrocarbons, etc.

Secondary Air Pollutants

The pollutants formed due to photochemical reactions in the atmosphere from primary pollutants are secondary pollutants. For example, Smog like Classical smog (London Smog), Photochemical smog (Los Angeles smog), Peroxyacyl Nitrate (PAN), acid rain, etc.

Causes of Air Pollution

Both man-made and natural causes can cause air pollution. There are many causes of pollution. In fact, human activities contribute the most to environmental pollution. 

Following are some of the important causes of air pollution:

1. Agricultural Activities: Spraying insecticides, pesticides, and fertilisers emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and contaminate the air.

Air Pollution Due to Agricultural Activities

2. Factories and Industries: The harmful smoke or gases emitted by factories contaminates the air since they are rich in carbon monoxide, organic compounds, hydrocarbons and chemicals.

Pollution Due to Industries

3. Burning of Fossil Fuels: The combustion of fossil fuels emits a large amount of Sulphur dioxide, which pollutes the air. 

Air Pollution Due to Burning of Fossil Fuels

4. Automobiles: The gases emitted from vehicles such as cars, trucks, jeeps, buses, lorries, etc., pollute the environment. These are the major source of greenhouse gases and result in harmful diseases for the people who inhale this air. Hydrocarbons, CO, CO2, and Sulphur oxides are major constituents of automobile exhausts.

Air Pollution Due to Automobiles

5. Mining Activities: The minerals below the Earth are extracted using large pipes in the mining process. The dust and chemicals released during the process pollute the air and destroy the workers’ health.

Pollution Due to Mining Activities

6. Domestic Sources: Painting of walls, using wooden sticks as fuel, burning cow dung, etc., are the basic user in the home, leading to a toxic smell in the air which causes health hazards.

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Harmful Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution can cause harmful health effects such as eye, nose, throat irritation, headache, and allergic reaction in the short term.
Following are the critical effects of air pollution:

  1. Diseases: Air pollution gives rise to several respiratory disorders and heart diseases. Lung cancer, pneumonia, and asthma have increased due to pollution in the last few years.
  2. Acid Rain: Monument like the Taj Mahal is affected due to acid rain. This acid rain is caused due to the burning of fossil fuels which releases harmful gases such as nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide into the air. The water droplets combine with this pollutant to become acidic and fall as acid rain, which affects the ecosystem.
  3. Ozone Layer Depletion: The hole in the ozone layer is caused by air pollutants. Chemicals used as refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons, halons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons are the major cause of depletion of the ozone layer. This depletion allows harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun to enter the atmosphere and causes skin diseases and eye problems among ordinary people.
  4. Global Warming: It is caused due to the emission of gases from automobiles. This creates an imbalance in the atmosphere, which leads to an increase in the temperature of the Earth.


  1. Air pollution can be prevented by less usage of automobiles. 
  2. A large number of fossil fuels are burnt to generate electricity. Therefore, we need to switch off the electrical appliances when not in use. 
  3. We should use solar cells, solar cookers, solar heaters, solar dryers, etc., to prevent air pollution.
  4. The use of alternative energy sources like wind energy, solar energy, etc., should be promoted.
  5. We need to plant more and more trees and reduce deforestation to prevent air pollution.

Control of Vehicular Air Pollution

One of the major sources of air pollutants is automobile exhaust. Control of vehicular pollution may lead to eventual control of pollutants. The following steps should be followed or promoted to control vehicular air pollution:

  1. Switching to public transport from personal vehicles
  2. Phasing out older vehicles
  3. Compulsory usage of unleaded petrol and, if possible, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
  4. Use of catalytic converters in vehicles

Plantation of Trees

Plants and trees reduce a large number of pollutants in the air. Ideally, planting trees in areas of high pollution levels will be extremely effective. Saalumarada Thimmakka, an Indian environmentalist from Karnataka, played a major role in planting trees and changing the environment through her contributions. So, we should thank her for this act as it has resulted in reducing pollution.


Fresh air is always the first certificate for survival on this planet Earth. Life would have been simply unbearable when the polluted air conquered our mother, Earth. The government and citizens have a collective responsibility for preventing and controlling pollution. The effects on air will decrease upon the reduction of air pollutants. Although people do not have enough resources to repair the damage caused by pollution, taking preventive measures will gradually improve.


We have provided some frequently asked questions about air pollution here:

Q.1: What are the methods followed to control air pollution?
Ans: Planting trees, using less fire and fire products, using CNG fuelled vehicles, etc., are a few methods followed to control air pollution.

Q.2: What are the five effects of air pollution?
Ans: Five effects of air pollution are:
1. Diseases like respiratory health problems
2. Acid rain
3. Ozone layer depletion
4. Global warming
5. Climate change

Q.3: What are the three main causes of air pollution?
Ans: The three main causes of air pollution:
1. Agricultural activities
2. Factories and industries
3. Mining activities

Q.4: What is air pollution?
Ans: Air pollution releases pollutants such as gases, particles, biological molecules, etc., into the air that is harmful to human health and the environment. 

Q.5: What are the two types of air pollutants?
Ans: The two types of air pollutants are:
1. Primary Air Pollutants 
2. Secondary Air Pollutants

We hope this detailed article on Air pollution is helpful to you. If you have any queries on this article or in general about pollution, ping us through the comment box below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Practice Air Pollution Questions with Hints & Solutions