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What Makes Air Unhealthy

Whether it comes from your car's exhaust pipe, dirty smokestacks or a forest fire, air pollution can be deadly. Learn about sources of pollution and how they can be cleaned up so everyone can breathe safer, healthier air.

Sources of Air Pollution

  • Electric Utilities
    Electric utilities burning coal, natural gas, oil and biomass produce air pollutants that harm lung health.
  • Transportation
    Vehicles and equipment used to move people, goods and fuel from one place to another can pollute the air and harm human health.
  • Residential Sources
    Heating, cooling and powering our homes all produce emissions that can harm health, including in our own neighborhoods.
  • Commercial and Industrial
    Harmful emissions come from heating, cooling and powering businesses and industrial operations, as well as from manufacturing processes.
  • Emergencies and Natural Disasters
    Wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other natural events can create unhealthy air, especially for people with lung disease. And the cleanup often adds to the challenge.
  • Climate Change
    Climate change poses a grave health threat to everyone, with serious risks to lung health.

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed October 31, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: November 28, 2017

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