Air Pollution from Combustion Summary

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Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Fossil fuels are responsible for thermal pollution and an overwhelming majority of the pollutants released into the atmosphere. Many of the products used indoors are petroleum-based and therefore can be eliminated only if they are replaced with more environmental-friendly materials. Even renewable energy technologies are not entirely “clean”. For example, it has been suggested that to generate the same amount of electricity with wind and solar plants, we still need some fossil fuels for manufacturing these devices. Furthermore, solar cells and batteries use large quantities of highly toxic materials (such as arsenic, cadmium, selenium, boron, etc.) that may prove even more harmful than contaminants associated with fossil fuel use. Since most of these products have a limited life, they must be disposed of and occasionally retrofitted with new systems, so finding cleaner manufacturing techniques is essential.

The Kyoto Treaty is expected to have only a limited success unless it includes provisions that requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions by all countries. This will be possible, only if the industrialized countries help the less-developed countries with technologies that enable them to reduce their carbon footprint with no or little economic hardship.


(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Gore, A., An Inconvenient Truth, Penguin Books, 2007.

Roleff, T., Pollution: Opposing viewpoints, Greenhaven Press, 2000.

Walsh, P. J., Dudney, C. S., Copenhave, E. D., Indoor Air Quality, CRC Press, 1984.

Environmental Science and Technology, published by the American Chemical Society.

External Links

Environmental Protection Agency (

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC), (

United Nations Environment Programme (

World Health Organization (WHO) (