Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

Difference Between Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

share icon
share icon

Air Pollution

Air pollution is the release of contaminants in the air that are harmful to human health and the whole world. The Clean Air Act permits the U.S. to protect public health by controlling the emissions of these toxic air pollutants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since it was set up in 1970, the NRDC has been a leading authority on this rule.

Burning fossil fuels emits gases and chemicals into the air. Air pollution not only leads to climate change in a highly harmful feedback loop, but is also compounded by an increase in the temperature of the earth. The increased heat then worsens another type of air pollution, when the weather is warmer and there is more ultraviolet radiation, smog forms. The production of allergenic air contaminants, including mould and pollen, is also increased by climate change (due to a elongated pollen season and more pollen production).

Air Pollutant

The material in the environment that can have harmful effects on humans and the ecosystem is an air pollutant. Strong particles, liquid droplets, or gases may be the material. A pollutant can be of natural or man-made origin. Pollutants are categorised as secondary or primary. 

Processes such as ash from a volcanic eruption typically create primary contaminants. carbon-monoxide'>Carbon monoxide gas from motor vehicle exhausts or sulfur dioxide emitted from factories is another example. Primary contaminants are not explicitly emitted. Instead, as primary contaminants react or communicate, they form in the air. A common example of a secondary pollutant is ground-level ozone. Some contaminants can be both primary and secondary, both directly emitted from other primary pollutants and produced from them.

Carbon Dioxide: 

It has been described as the' leading pollutant' and' the worst climate pollutant' because of its position as a greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide, essential for plant life and emitted by the human respiratory system, is a natural component of the atmosphere. This topic of terminology has practical implications, such as whether the U.S. The Clean Air Act is known to control carbon dioxide.

Sulfur Oxides: 

It is generated in various industrial processes and by volcanoes. coal-and-petroleum'>Coal and petroleum also contain sulfur compounds and sulfur dioxide is produced by their combustion. Further oxidation of sulfur oxides, typically in the presence of a catalyst such as oxides of nitrogen, forms sulfuric acid and thus forms acid rain. This is one of the reasons for concern about the effect of the use of these fuels as power sources on the environment.

Nitrogen Oxide: 

Nitrogen oxides are expelled from high-temperature combustion, particularly nitrogen dioxide, and are also created by electrical discharge during thunderstorms. They can be seen above or a plume downwind of towns as a brown haze dome. It is one of the oxides of nitrogen. This reddish-brown toxic gas, one of the most popular air contaminants, has a distinctive sharp, biting odour.

Carbon Monoxide: 

It is a poisonous, odourless, and colourless gas. It is a fuel-burning oil, such as natural gas, coal or wood. The bulk of carbon monoxide allowed into our atmosphere refers to vehicular exhaust. It causes the creation of a smog type in the air that has been connected to many lung diseases and natural environment and animal disturbances.

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gas, any gas released from the Earth's surface that has the property of absorbing infrared radiation (heat energy) and reradiating it back to the surface of the Earth, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect. The most significant greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour (Surface-level ozone, nitrous oxides, and fluorinated gases also trap infrared radiation to a lesser extent).


While making up just a fraction of all atmospheric gases, greenhouse gasses have a profound influence on the Earth system's energy budget. During Earth's history, greenhouse gas concentrations have varied greatly, and these fluctuations have driven dramatic climate changes at a wide range of timescales. In general, greenhouse gas concentrations during warm periods were especially high and during cold periods were low.

Important Greenhouse Gases:

Water Vapour- 

The most potent greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere is water vapour, but its behaviour varies fundamentally from that of other greenhouse gases. Water vapour’s primary function is not as a direct radiative forcing agent, but rather as a climate feedback, i.e. as a reaction within the climate system that affects the continuing operation of the system.

Carbon Dioxide- 

The most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Natural sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide include volcano outgassing, organic matter combustion and natural decline, and aerobic (oxygen-using) organisms breathing. On average, these sources are balanced by a collection of physical, chemical, or biological processes called "sinks," which appear to be separated from the atmosphere.


The second most powerful greenhouse gas is methane. Since the radiative force produced per molecule is greater, methane is more potent than carbon dioxide. Moreover, in the range of wavelengths of radiation absorbed by methane, the infrared window is less saturated, so more molecules can fill the area. Methane, however, occurs at much lower concentrations than ambient carbon dioxide, and its atmospheric volume concentrations are usually measured in parts per billion (ppb) instead of ppm. Methane also has a slightly shorter residence time than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

What is the Difference Between Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases?

Air Pollution

Greenhouse Gases

Other associated diseases with prolonged exposure can cause breathing problems.

Generally, greenhouse gases are harmless. However, some gases, such as ozone, can be harmful if inhaled directly.

Air pollution can affect the atmosphere in a detrimental way. Acid rain that can impact marine habitats can be induced.

Greenhouse gases up to a certain level are relatively harmless. However, global warming will wreak havoc once gases start accumulating above a certain level.

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?

FAQs on Difference Between Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

1. What is the Impact of Greenhouses?

Ans. The greenhouse effect is the manner in which "greenhouse gases" trap heat near the Earth's surface. Such heat-trapping gases can be thought of as a blanket wrapped around the Earth that makes it more toasted than it would be without them. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and nitrous oxides are among the greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect is the manner in which "greenhouse gases" trap heat near the Earth's surface.

 Such heat-trapping gases can be thought of as a blanket wrapped around the Earth that makes it more toasted than it would be without them. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and nitrous oxides are among the greenhouse gases. In the last century or so, however, humans have messed with the planet's energy balance, largely by burning fossil fuels that emit extra carbon dioxide into the air.

2. What is the Human Health Effect of Air Pollution?

Ans. Fine particulate matter is the air pollutant that is of greatest importance to human health. It is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less. These fine particles, 40 times smaller than the width of human hair, are invisible to the human eye. They can do our bodies a lot of harm. These particles are small enough to penetrate deep into our lungs, where fragile lung tissue causes inflammation and can move into the bloodstream, impacting organs such as the heart and brain. Both acute diseases and chronic diseases are caused by air pollution. 

There is substantial evidence of an increased risk of ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung and upper aerodigestive cancers, adverse pregnancy outcomes (i.e. low birth rate, preterm births and decreased birth weight, diabetes and cataracts) associated with long-term exposure to air pollution.