Air pollution occurs when the air contains gases, dust, fumes or odour in harmful amounts. That is, amounts which could be harmful to the health or comfort of humans and animals or which could cause damage to plants and materials.
The substances that cause air pollution are called pollutants. Pollutants that are pumped into our atmosphere and directly pollute the air are called primary pollutants. Primary pollutant examples include carbon monoxide from car exhausts and sulfur dioxide from the combustion of coal.
Further pollution can arise if primary pollutants in the atmosphere undergo chemical reactions. The resulting compounds are called secondary pollutants. Photochemical smog is an example of this.