Background of Air Pollution

Factors that contribute to air pollution have been around for centuries and range in intensity. Industrial growth is certainly a factor, but even something as seemingly insignificant as burning wood can also contribute to this issue. In 1948, air pollution reached a noticeable point when smog and haze started to form in cities like Donora, PA (EPA, 2020). This was a wake-up call. People started noticing the signs more frequently, and a link between air pollution and health issues was born. This captured the attention of state legislators in the United States. Ultimately, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1970, which helped establish air quality standards (EPA, 2020).

What is air pollution?

National Geographic defines air pollution as a mix of particles and gases that can reach harmful concentrations both outside and indoors (Essick, 2019). While smoke, mold, and pollen are just some examples of air pollutants, it is important to note that air pollution is not always visible. Pollutants that aren’t seen with the naked eye can be just as dangerous. Luckily, modern technology has given us the ability to view the air quality index anytime with a quick online search.

Cause and effect:

Some causes of air pollution are wildfires, climate change, and the effects of a growing population and economy. Ironically, climate change can also be a result of air pollution. Another result of air pollution, and one that most people are aware of, is an increased risk of disease and health issues.


Industrial facilities have long posed a threat on air quality. The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for 50% of the pollution in the United States (Green Journal, 2019). Gas-fueled motor vehicles certainly contribute to this. None of these challenges are going to disappear overnight. However, there are strict regulations and policies in place to tackle them. While the challenges persist, the regulations try to minimize the damage that they cause.

Key players:

Air pollution is an issue that affects everyone. Thankfully, some organizations understand the weight of this issue and focus their efforts on fighting it. The United States Environment Protection Agency, or EPA, is a key player in environmental policy. They set and regulate many of the policies in place today regarding air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) is another key player. They provide the public with free and reliable information on topics such as air pollution. Another organization that plays a role in the fight against air pollution is the Coalition for Clean Air. The CCA is dedicated to helping California achieve better air quality (Helen, 2020).


History of Air Pollution. (2020, June 10). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

Essick, P. (2019, June 25). Air Pollution Causes, Effects, and Solutions. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

Helen, A. (2020, October 5). Top Influencers, NGOs & Organizations Against Air Pollution in 2020 [Web blog post]. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

Can Industrial Factories Reduce Their Impact on Air Quality? (2019, December 30). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

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