air pollution

/ˈɛə pəluʃən/ (say 'air puhloohshuhn)

the contamination of the air by substances such as chemical fumes, particulate matter, gases, etc.
The major source of air pollution in Australia is the motor vehicle whose exhausts cause chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons to enter the air. Other contaminants include ozone (from the action of sunlight on nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon compounds), sulphur dioxide (mainly from the burning of fossil fuels containing sulphur for electricity generation) and microscopic particles (from combustion processes). In sunny weather, cities and industrial centres can experience photochemical smog, a whitish or brownish haze in the atmosphere, caused by reactions between some air pollutants especially nitrogen oxides and unburned fuel from vehicle exhausts with atmospheric oxygen in the presence of sunlight. The substances formed are toxic to humans and animals, irritating eyes, nasal and oral cavities. Many plants wilt and can die from photochemical smog. Natural sources of air pollution include bushfires and, in countries other than Australia, volcanic eruptions.

Australian English dictionary. 2014.

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