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Air

What it is
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Consequences of air pollution

Some pollutants, if they are present in excessive quantities, can produce chemical and physical alterations of the air, hampering its capacity to “work” correctly and guarantee our survival functions. Men’s activity usually originates pollutants (anthropogenic origin), although in some cases natural sources contribute significantly. Most of human-origin air pollution derives either from fossil fuels (their combustion is necessary to produce energy) or from industrial chemical processes. The environmental impact of air pollutants is variable: some compounds mainly act at local level, where they are produced and distributed, while others affect entire regions. Some others have an impact on the whole planet. In fact, some atmospheric agents have a short life (a few hours or a few days) and after that they fall on the ground, while other pollutants keep active for long periods and can spread on a wider area. This type of pollutants can have an influence on environmental conditions at a continental, sometimes even planetary level, with a negative impact on human health, even in places that are far away from the source of pollution. In most cases, the type and quantity of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere depend on the nature of the energy sources that are used (see the corresponding section on natural resources) and on the raw materials that men use during production processes.

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