Air Pollution Sources

Air pollution occurs when the air contains gases, dust, fumes or odour in harmful amounts. Substances that cause air pollution are called pollutants – things like carbon monoxide from car exhausts or sulphur dioxide from coal combustion


Air pollutants are substances in the atmosphere and can cause significant health and environmental damage. They can be liquid, solid, or gaseous.

Vehicle Emissions

Getting around in a gas-powered vehicle weighs on the environment. The harmful emissions released into the air cause damage that can’t be undone. Find out how you can make environmentally-responsible transportation choices.

Industrial Emissions

The pollutants that different industries release into the air are controlled by various policies and regulations. Find out how these emissions are monitored and learn about industrial air quality standards.

How Business and Industry Contribute to Air Pollution

Along with individual and community activities, businesses and industrial facilities are significant sources of air pollutants in British Columbia.

In B.C., the wood industry (e.g., forestry and sawmills) and pulp and paper mills release the most industrial emissions of particulate matter. They also emit sulphur oxides (SOx), along with the smog-forming chemicals: nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

In addition, the upstream oil-and-gas industry is a key contributor to air pollution, releasing SOx, NOx and VOCs. Coal mining, cement and concrete production, mining and rock quarrying, and aluminum production are important other emission sources.

Small businesses such as automotive shops, dry cleaners and painting operations use various toxic substances, such as paints and solvents, cleaning agents.

For more details on business and industrial emissions, see Industrial Emissions.

Smoke & Burning

Smoke produced from indoor and outdoor burning causes a significant amount of air pollution, which in turn affects human health and the environment. There is no safe minimum level of smoke exposure. Learn about different types of burning and what you can do to reduce smoke when lighting a fire.